As part of NJ's new accountability system, schools are no longer held to the adequate yearly progress (AYP) provisions of NCLB. Rather, NJ has developed an accountability system where the state's lowest achieving schools will get the majority of attention. If you're interested in the specifics, please read this press release from the Christie Administration.
My real intent with this post is to reflect on our school's (Indiana Avenue School #18) new label within this accountability system. As of today, our school is now a "Reward School." Just 112 schools in the state were tagged with this label. You can view the full list here. Although I am very proud of this designation, just eight months ago we were labeled a "failing school" for not making AYP. So, in less than one school year, we went from being the dregs of our district to achieving the "Reward School" label.
The moral of this post is we haven't lost our focus. Even though we did not make AYP based on our 2011 accountability test results, we knew our students' performance was trending in the right direction. Our data analyses identified that our students' achievement improved as they moved from grade three, to grade four, and then to grade five. We are aware of our strengths and weaknesses, and we continue to focus on using the data to guide our practice. Our focus hasn't changed because we didn't make AYP, because we knew we were moving our students in the right direction during the years they spent with us. We had evidence that our practice was improving our students' learning. Now, we have the label to support it.
So, today's news is nice for us. It is much better than the alternative, but it really isn't news. It's simply a new label. We'll maintain our focus on getting all of our students to improve their learning during the time each spends with us. That is our job, and we will continue to look to the evidence to do what is best to improve our students' learning.