The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Yet again, Clayton doesn’t meet state benchmarks

African-American, free/reduced lunch, and IEP students continue to struggle.

Recently published data from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reveal that Clayton School District has failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the fourth straight year.

(Margaret Spengler/MCT)
(Margaret Spengler/MCT)

AYP is a rising benchmark set by the state as part of No Child Left Behind, with targets for student proficiency reaching 100 percent in 2014 – a seemingly impossible goal. That means that any district without perfect Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) scores will have “failed” to meet standards.

This year, Clayton is joined by all other St. Louis County schools and 84 percent of Missouri schools in its failure to meet AYP.

Though the district’s aggregate scores in communication arts and math exceeded the state targets, certain subgroups failed to reach the proficiency goals. Students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) did not meet AYP in both subjects, and Limited English Proficiency students and African-American students did not meet AYP in communication arts.

Rural schools with homogenous, typically Caucasian populations tend to have an easier time making AYP, as they have few or possibly zero subgroups. Failing to meet AYP in one subgroup – a population of 30 or more students – causes the entire district to not make AYP.

“The fewer subgroups you have, the higher the chance you have to make AYP,” said Heidi Shepard, Director of Assessment for Clayton School District.

Needless to say, the existence of a significant achievement gap in Clayton schools between African-American students and Caucasian and Asian students was affirmed by the MAP scores (see charts below).

According to the text of No Child Left Behind, “corrective action” can be taken when a school district fails to meet AYP for four consecutive years. That can involve any number of terrifying penalties, such as large scale replacement of staff and curriculum overhaul. Yet Shepard said that the state has not contacted Clayton about any such penalties and that it probably never will.

“I can’t believe they would spend a lot of time focusing on districts like Clayton, compared to others that are having much greater concerns,” Shepard said.

She said that a possible ramification is that Clayton may not be at the top of the list to receive state grants, but Clayton gets so little of its funding from the state compared to other schools that this consequence seems minor.

And while CHS Principal Louise Losos said that the MAP scores should not be dismissed, she added that it is important to consider other metrics as well. Graduation rates, ACT scores, AP scores, college attendance rates and the like present a more holistic picture of Clayton. As does Newsweek’s ranking of Clayton as the best public school in Missouri and one of the 100 best in the nation. Though not scientific fact, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Shepard said that she will continue to study the data and see what can be gleaned from it. End of Course exam results can help expose holes in curriculum, for example, and the results’ emphasis on subgroup performance can help shed light on populations within the student body that are struggling.

As proficiency targets climb toward 100 percent, it is unlikely that Clayton will ever meet AYP again. No Child Left Behind’s imperfections will continue to play out as more and more schools are deemed underperforming. With all of its unrealistic expectations, it seems inevitable that the current system of assessment will be revised at the national level –  it is only a question of when.

 

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The student news site of Clayton High School.
Yet again, Clayton doesn’t meet state benchmarks