Sixty percent of Baltimore's elementary and middle schools failed to reach their annual progress goals based on state test results, a target that principals still strive for but the city schools CEO sees as becoming irrelevant. Though Maryland School Assessment scores for city students in math and reading were flat or showed some gains this year, 85 of the 142 Baltimore elementary and middle schools did not meet the goals known as adequate yearly progress, according to data from city schools. Last year, 71 of the 150 elementary and middle schools tested, 47 percent, did not meet their targets. Fifty-seven Baltimore schools remain on the state's "school improvement list," which means that they failed to meet federally mandated progress targets for at least two years in a row. Jessica Shiller, education director for Advocates for Children and Youth, an organization that monitors the city's progress and education policies, said the number of city schools missing their adequate yearly progress targets this year is high, though not unusual in a district that serves a substantial number of low-income students. She said that makes it "incumbent upon the school system to play a much stronger role in getting kids to achieve." City schools CEO Andres Alonso said that although adequate yearly progress, also known as AYP, is part of how a school's achievement is measured, the yearly targets are far from the strongest method for determining a school's successes and shortfalls. The targets are set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which dictates that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 and raises standards every year. "It's a perverse conversation, because schools can be improving and not make AYP and other schools can be declining and still make AYP," Alonso said. "It focuses school attention only on the tested subjects as part of the push for accountability. "I have said since Day One that I don't care about AYP," he said. "I care about progress."
Baltimore Sun photo by Amy Davis
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