School officials struggle to understand complexities of AYP

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) has schools all over New Mexico scrambling to come up with answers for how to pass the state standards mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Area school officials got a chance to learn more about AYP at the fall meeting of the Region V New Mexico School Boards Association held last Tuesday in Dora.

A state public education official presented the program: “What School Boards Need to Know About AYP.”

“We want to help our youngsters for the best reasons and the right reasons,” said Patricia Parkinson of the New Mexico Public Education Department.

According to Parkinson, there are 37 criteria required for a school to meet AYP standards. A school that fails to meet even one of the categories fails to meet AYP and can lose their accreditation, she said.

During the meeting, Parkinson spoke of the complexities of AYP and what schools need to know.

For smaller schools in the area, pooling resources through the Regional Education Center (REC) is a way to help in the effort to meet the AYP standards.

According to Floyd Schools Superintendent Paul Benoit, AYP is a confusing issue. For the most part having to follow AYP has helped in some areas, such as producing data on progress in the school which can then be used to adjust the areas that need improvement.

Benoit said AYP has also caused some negative issues for the schools, citing that the public only hears the negative.

“I think it has hurt the image of schools because of the public’s perception — you either make it or you don’t,” Benoit said.

Some good has come from the AYP expectations. Students receive individual instruction as needed and their progress is then monitored and tracked periodically, Benoit said.

“You have to target all of your kids,” Benoit said.

In Dora, the staff and administration also focus on providing the best education for their students, in light of the pressure AYP has put on all the schools, said Steve Barron, superintendent.

“We’re just doing the best we can in educating students,” Barron said.

Dora Schools also utilizes the REC as a means to provide further training and development for staff. The REC helps to provide resources and keep the schools focused on meeting and exceeding AYP standards, Barron said.

Parkinson said all students are expected to be grade-level proficient in the tested subjects by the 2014, something she says may not be plausible as standards go up each year.

Several factors make up the AYP chart and many of the schools are unable to meet all of the designated categories now, Benoit said.

“It is a little frustrating,” Benoit said of the issues associated with AYP.