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All district schools make AYP this year

August 24, 2011 - The school district received a bit of good news this week when they found out they met the adequate yearly progress standards by the United States Department of Education.

"Certainly it shows we are continuing to move in the right direction," Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum James Schwarz said.

In addition to the district making AYP, all of the elementary schools, Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School all made AYP this year.

The elementary schools and OMS also received an "A" grade from the state of Michigan. OHS received a "B" due to the drop in math scores, according to Schwarz. The grades are determined by looking at testing scores on the MME, ACT and MEAP and seeing if they have increased or decreased from the previous year.

Last year, the district failed to meet AYP standards due to students at Crossroads for Youth not showing up for tests.

"It wasn't the score, it was the fact we had some kids blow off the test and didn't show up," Schwarz said. "So in turn, that hurt us in terms of AYP."

So this year Schwarz made sure students participated in the tests.

"We have been very careful making sure across the district, Crossroads included, Crossing Bridges included, that students are showing up for the tests and that they are taking the tests," Schwarz said. "It's not an easy thing to do."

Adequate Yearly Progress was established in 2001 as part of No Child Left Behind and looks at scores for reading and math. According to Schwarz, schools are held to certain "score range on the standardized tests" which increases every year.

Districts have to meet three different criteria in order to make AYP, the first being meeting the testing score standards for a particular year.

This year's proficiency score standards (2010-11) for Michigan in reading were 78 percent in third grade; 77 in fourth grade; 76 in fifth grade; 75 in sixth grade; 74 in seventh grade; 73 in eighth grade and 79 in 11th grade.

This year's proficiency score standards in math were 75 percent in third grade; 74 percent in fourth grade; 71 percent in fifth grade; 70 percent in sixth grade; 67 percent in seventh grade; 66 percent in eighth grade and 67 percent in 11th grade.

Schwarz noted even though the district scores are lower than the proficiency score standards in some areas, they were still able to maintain AYP because the scores for students who have been with the district for one year or less are factored out.

According to Schwarz, by 2014, all grade levels are expected to be at 100 percent proficiency in reading and math.

"I don't know anybody who is going to make 100 percent proficiency, that is almost an unreachable attainment," Schwarz said.

"When you consider special education population and at risk populations and all of the factors that you have that are outside of your control at the school, I don't know you do it and it's unreasonable and just about everybody would agree with that," Schwarz said.

He added the state had recently filed an appeal to the United States Department of Education saying there was "no way by 2014 Michigan students are all going to be functioning at 100 percent proficiency in reading and math."

In order to make sure districts are not just testing their best students, AYP has nine different demographic areas of students and requires 95 percent of students tested in each demographic area.

The third element of AYP is graduation rate.

"At a minimum it has to be at 85 percent or better," Schwarz said. "Again, that is an increasing expectation, and that started at 75 percent and now it is at 85 percent as a basement for what you have to have as a graduation rate for AYP."

In Oakland County, 18 school districts found out they did not meet the standards for AYP.

"We are going to start seeing more and more schools that are not going to be making AYP as we get to the next couple of years where the basement level of those target ranges are in the high 80's, 90's and 100 percent," Schwarz said. "Luckily, luck has been on our side that we have been able to do so (maintain AYP)."

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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