Adequate yearly progress measured by MCAS
MCAS scores are used to determine a school's adequate yearly progress (AYP).
AYP measures the extent to which a student group demonstrates proficiency in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics progress towards meeting federally required annual performance targets under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regulations. The federal NCLB law sets 2014 as the year by which all students in public schools must achieve proficiency in ELA and math.
It is left to each state to determine what proficiency means. However, although Massachusetts sets its own bar, the federal accountability system raises it every year. For example, the state's target AYP goal in math jumped from 68.7 points in the 2006-07 school year to 76.5 in the 2007-08 school year.
AYP is determined by both aggregate and subgroup scores. The aggregate, the total number of students who took the MCAS tests, is counted if there are at least 20 students. Subgroups consist of five percent of the number of students who took the tests in categories such as special education, limited English proficiency, race/ethnicity, and low income, which is determined by eligibility for free and reduced lunches. Sometimes it takes only a few students for a school not to achieve AYP.
AYP is calculated by four factors, including participation, performance, improvement, and attendance for grades one through eight, and graduation rates for grades nine through twelve. Each student receives composite performance index (CPI) points to achieve proficiency levels. For example, students in grades 4-10 must score 100 CPI points to achieve an advanced proficiency level.
The participation factor required that at least 95 percent of a school's students took the 2009 MCAS exams. Performance ratings were tied to whether a student group performed at or above the 2009 state performance target. Improvement ratings indicate whether a student group met its own 2009 improvement target.
Schools that meet AYP performance and improvement targets receive a "no status" designation, meaning they do not have to revise their School Improvement Plan (SIP).
The consequences of not achieving AYP increase with each succeeding year, with the most severe after five consecutive years, at which time schools move into "restructuring" and may be put under state oversight.
Complying with NCLB regulations often requires schools to reallocate resources to address remedial efforts, without provisions for additional funds.