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The ABCs of AYP

  1. Why does AYP exist?

Sec. 1111 (b)(F) - Each state shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the 2001-2002 school year, all students in each group described in subparagraph (C)(v) will meet or exceed the State's proficient level of academic achievement on the State's assessments (No Child Left Behind Act, 2001).

  1. What is AYP?

AYP stands for Adequate Yearly Progress. It represents the annual academic performance targets in Reading and Math that the State, school districts, and individual schools must reach to be considered on track for 100 percent proficiency by school year 2013-14.

  1. Who has to make AYP?
  • The State
  • School districts
  • Schools
  • Disaggregated groups of 30 or more students at the State level and within schools and school districts. The disaggregated groups stipulated by NCLB are:
    • Racial/Ethnic: White, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander
    • Economically Disadvantaged: Students eligible for free or reduced cost lunch.
    • Students with Disabilities: Students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
    • English Language Learners: Students who are classified as Non-English Proficient (NEP), Limited English Proficient (LEP), or Fluent English Proficient (FEP)
  1. Can a student be included in more than one disaggregated group?

Yes. For example, a White student whose family moved to the U.S. from Russia and who receives reduced cost lunches would be counted in the school and district overall, as well as the White, Economically Disadvantaged, and English Language Learner disaggregated groups.

  1. Do private schools or institutions have to make AYP?

No, primarily because they do not accept or benefit from Title I funds. However, if a school district has Title I-funded private schools or institutions within its boundaries, the school district must establish and communicate annually to the private school what criteria will be used to evaluate the impact of the Title I services delivered .

  1. What if a Title I school or school district doesn’t make AYP?

Nothing happens after only one year. However, districts must place Title I schools that fail to make AYP in the same content area for two consecutive years on School Improvement Year 1. Schools on Improvement Year 1 must develop improvement plans and their districts must offer public school choice—the opportunity to transfer and transport children to another school in the district that is not on Improvement. Schools on Improvement Year 2 must offer after-school supplemental education services in addition to school choice. In the third year, the district must implement one or more improvements from a list of corrective actions.

The State must place school districts that receive Title I funds that fail to make AYP for two consecutive years, in the same grade span and content area, on Program Improvement Year 1. The State must work with the school district to develop an improvement plan that delineates the responsibilities of each. In addition, limits are placed on how the school district may spend its NCLB funding. If the district continues to fail to make AYP, the State must take at least one corrective action.

  1. How can schools and districts get off Improvement?

The only way for schools to get off Improvement is to make all AYP targets, in the content area(s) that put the school on Improvement, for two consecutive years. The only way for districts to get off Improvement is for the district to make all AYP targets, in the content area(s) and grade span(s) that put the district on Improvement, for two consecutive years.

  1. What do schools and districts need to do to make AYP?

Schools and school districts need to:

  1. Achieve a 95 percent participation rate on approved state assessments (primarily CSAP and CSAPA, but Lectura and CELA under some circumstances).
  2. Reach each year’s established proficiency targets or reduce non-proficiency by 10 percent (safe harbor or matched safe harbor).
  3. Reach targets for the “other indicator”—percent advanced for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools.

The specific calculation steps can be found in Calculating AYP 2009-2010 Determinations.

95 Percent Participation Rate Target

  1. What groups must achieve 95 percent participation?

The State, each school district grade span, and each school as a whole, as well as any disaggregated groups of 30 students or more, must achieve a 95 percent participation rate.

  1. Which students count as “participants?”

To count as participants, students must have a valid CSAP or CSAPA score in the content area. Eligible 3rd and 4th grade Spanish speaking students may take Lectura in lieu of CSAP Reading. Non-English speakers who were unable to access CSAP Reading and have been in the U.S. for less than one year count as Reading participants if they have an overall CELA score. Students that receive a “No Score” do not count as participants.

  1. Can a school or district that does not achieve 95 percent participation by students overall, as well as all disaggregated groups, still make AYP?

The U.S. Department of Education allows entities that do not achieve 95 percent participation for the current year to calculate the 2-year participation rate using the current and prior years’ numbers. If the 2-year participation rate does not reach 95 percent, regulations allow for calculating the 3-year rate. However, a school or district that does not achieve 95 percent participation based on one, two or three years cannot make AYP.

  1. What about students whose parents refuse to let them participate in CSAP?

They count as non-participants and are removed from calculations for proficiency and “other indicator” targets.

Performance Targets

  1. Which students are included in calculating AYP performance?

For schools, students in grades 3-10 who are continuously enrolled in the school for a full academic year (12+ month students) and receive a valid score on CSAP or CSAPA (or Lectura for Reading) count. Full academic year is defined as "continuously enrolled from one CSAP administration to the next CSAP administration.” Students who were not continuously enrolled in the school since the prior CSAP administration because they are in the lowest grade (e.g., first year of middle or high school) count if they have been in the district for a full academic year and enrolled in the school on or before October 1.

For districts, students in grades 3-10 who are continuously enrolled in the district for a full academic year (12+ month students) and who received a valid score on CSAP or CSAPA (or Lectura for Reading) count.

  1. How is proficiency defined for AYP purposes?

Students who score partially proficient, proficient, or advanced on CSAP or Lectura are considered AYP Proficient, as well as students who score emerging, developing, or novice on CSAPA.

  1. Do schools and districts have to reach all performance targets in both reading and math to make AYP?

The school and district overall, as well as any disaggregated groups with 30 students or more, must first try to meet the grade span’s proficiency targets in both reading and math to make AYP. If a district or school does not meet a performance target, it may be able to make AYP if it reduces its percent non-proficient by 10 percent compared to the prior year through Safe Harbor or Matched Safe Harbor, discussed below. All districts and schools must reach either proficiency targets or non-proficiency targets for districts and schools to make AYP.

Safe Harbor and Matched Safe Harbor—Non-Proficiency Targets

  1. What is the Safe Harbor provision?

The law contains a Safe Harbor provision that allows schools and districts that did not reach performance targets, as well as any disaggregated groups that had 30 students or more for two consecutive years, to make AYP by reducing the prior year’s non-proficiency rate by 10 percent.

  1. What if the school or disaggregated group did not have at least 30 students during the prior year?

They do not qualify for Safe Harbor—doing so requires 30 or more students in both the current and prior years. However, the school or disaggregated group may qualify for Matched Safe Harbor.

  1. What is Matched Safe Harbor?

Matched Safe Harbor is another provision, approved in Colorado by the U.S. Department of Education, which allows schools, districts and disaggregated groups that missed the Performance Target and Safe Harbor to demonstrate that they reduced the prior year’s non-proficiency by 10 percent based on the students tested in both the current and prior years. Whereas traditional Safe Harbor compares last year’s students to this year’s students, Matched Safe Harbor compares the same students across two years.

  1. Must there be 30 students or more for two consecutive years to calculate Matched Safe Harbor?

No, there is no minimum number requirement. However, there is a minimum match rate—95 percent of the current year’s students (not counting current 3rd graders) must have tested the prior year to be eligible for Matched Safe Harbor.

  1. Must all groups that do not reach targets for increasing proficiency reduce non-proficiency by 10 percent, either by Safe Harbor or Matched Safe Harbor, in order to make AYP?


  1. Can some disaggregated groups make AYP by increasing proficiency while others make AYP by reducing non-proficiency through Safe Harbor or Matched Safe Harbor?


  1. How do I calculate Safe Harbor?

You can use the 2009-2010 AYP Excel Calculator to do the following calculations:

  1. Identify the prior year’s percent non-proficient for the group in question.
  2. Multiply that percentage by 0.90.
  3. Compare the current year’s percent non-proficient to 90 percent of the prior year’s non-proficiency.
  4. If the current year’s percent non-proficient is equal to or less than 90% of the prior year’s non-proficiency, the group made Safe Harbor.
  1. How do I calculate Matched Safe Harbor, assuming that the match rate has been achieved?
  1. Identify the prior year’s number non-proficient for the matched group in question.
  2. Multiply that number by 0.90.
  3. Identify the current year’s number of non-proficient for the matched group in question.
  4. If the current year’s number non-proficient is less than or equal to 90 percent of the prior year’s non-proficient, the group made Matched Safe Harbor.
  1. How were the performance "starting points" established?

The NCLB Act was very prescriptive—states had very little flexibility. The following process established starting points separately for reading and math and for each of the three grade spans (K-5, 6-8, and 9-12):

  1. 1. Schools were ranked by percent AYP proficient (e.g., percent partially proficient, proficient, advanced on CSAP and emerging, developing, novice on CSAPA). Results were based on all students, regardless of how long they attended the school.
  2. 2. Beginning with the lowest performing school, enrollment numbers were summed until 20 percent of the enrollment at that grade span had been captured. Law required that the percent of AYP proficient students for that school be compared to the percent AYP proficient for the lowest performing disaggregated group in the grade span and that the higher of the two values become the starting point. In every case, the percent AYP proficient at the school at the 20th percentile exceeded the percent AYP proficient in the lowest performing disaggregated group at the grade span.
  1. How were performance targets established?

NCLB allows states to set different performance targets depending on content area and grade span, but requires proficiency targets to be the same for the State, all school districts, all schools, and all disaggregated groups within a given grade span and content area. The following steps were taken to set performance targets:

  1. 1. In 2002, performance targets equaled the starting points. Performance targets were held steady for 2003 and 2004.
  2. 2. Targets were raised in 2005, and every three years thereafter in equal increments, for a total of four raises over the 12-year period. The “distance” from the starting point to the 100 percent goal for 2014 was divided by four to establish the increments that performance targets needed to increase every three years (2008, 2011, 2014). Performance targets for interim years (e.g., 2009 and 2010) were held steady.
  1. What are the proficiency targets for reading and math?

The proficiency target chart can be found on CDE's website.

  1. Didn’t the performance targets require large amounts of academic growth for some schools/disaggregated groups and virtually none for others?

Yes. From the beginning of AYP, students in some disaggregated groups were performing well enough that they would not have to increase their performance for several years, while others would have to increase their proficiency levels immediately and dramatically. However, this was consistent with the dual purposes of NCLB: to increase performance by all students over time, as well as to close achievement gaps among student groups as quickly as possible.

  1. How do I calculate the proficiency rate for a school?

The 2009-2010 AYP Excel Calculator provides the steps.
"Other Indicator" Targets

  1. Must the State and all school districts, schools, and disaggregated groups of 30 students or more reach the performance targets set for the other indicator in order to make AYP?

Yes. NCLB does not provide exceptions for “other indicators.”

  1. What is the “other indicator?”

For elementary and middle schools and district grade spans, the “other indicator” is the percent of students that scored advanced on CSAP Reading and Math. NCLB requires that graduation rate be used as the “other indicator” for high schools.

  1. How were the starting points and targets for these “other indicators” established?

The elementary and middle grade span starting target for percent advanced was established by the State’s lowest performing disaggregated group based on CSAP 2002. Advanced performance targets increase in small increments every three years. The high school graduation rate starting target was established by the State’s lowest disaggregated group in 2001. Graduation rate targets increased in small increments every three years through 2009 (see Other Indicator charts). However, in accordance with October 2008 Title I Regulations, the U.S. Department of Education reviewed Colorado’s graduation rate calculations and targets and required that the 2009 graduation rate target (for AYP 2010) be increased to 63 percent. If the 63 percent graduation rate target is not met, a district, school or disaggregated group may still make the graduation target if its 2009 graduation rate increased two percentage points over 2008. The graduation rate target will be adjusted again for AYP 2011, but that target has not yet been determined.

  1. Why don’t the performance denominators match the advanced “other indicator” denominators in elementary and middle schools?

The other indicator denominator may have fewer students than the performance denominator because CSAPA tests are omitted from advanced calculations (no CSAPA equivalent for advanced). It is even possible that the number could drop below 30, which would leave groups accountable for performance targets but not for the advanced “other indicator.”

  1. How are graduation rates calculated for the purpose of AYP?

Under Colorado law, local school boards are responsible for establishing high school graduation requirements, which vary from district to district. However, the State calculates graduation rates in a uniform manner for all school districts. Graduation rate calculations do not include students who obtain a GED or certificate of completion, or do not graduate within four years. The graduation rate is a cumulative or longitudinal rate that considers the number of students who meet the graduation requirements as a percent of those who were in membership and could have graduated over a four year period from grade 9 through grade 12. More information about the graduation rate currently is calculated is available at:

Differently Configured Schools

  1. What about schools with grade spans other than K-5, 6-8, and 9-12?

Colorado law defines school levels as elementary, middle, or high. Schools that cover grades K-5 or K-6 are considered elementary schools. Schools that cover grades 6-8 or 7-9 are considered middle schools. Schools that cover grades 9-12 or 10-12 are considered high schools. If a school includes grades from two or three grade spans, it is considered as two or three separate schools for the purposes of determining AYP.

School Grade Spans Performance Target Level

K-3, K-4, K-5, or K-6 Elementary Performance Targets
5-8, 6-8, 7-8, 7-9 Middle School Performance Targets
9-12, 10-12 High School Performance Targets
  1. What if an elementary school has a K-6 configuration. Would 6th grade data be used to calculate performance rates for that school, or would only grades 3-5 data be used?

AYP would be calculated using all Reading and Math CSAP, CSAPA, and Lectura data available for grades at that school, including 6th grade.

Use of Confidence Intervals

  1. CDE incorporates the use of "confidence intervals" and upper "confidence limits" in making AYP determinations. What does this mean?

Confidence intervals have important and positive implications for a school’s or district’s opportunity to make AYP. CDE uses a specific formula (developed by Ghosh) to calculate confidence intervals around a proportion or percentage (see Glass & Hopkins, 3rd Edition, 1996, p. 326). When using confidence intervals, upper and lower limits around the percent proficient are calculated, creating a range of values within which there is “confidence” that the true percentage lies. CDE will use a 95 percent confidence level, meaning that we are 95 percent confident that the percent proficient for a school or district falls within the limits determined by the confidence interval formula.

For example, let’s say the percent of AYP proficient students in reading at an elementary school is 82.68 and the upper and lower limits of the 95 percent confidence interval are 89.54 and 75.82, respectively. Given that the proficiency target for elementary reading is 88.46 percent, the school would be considered to have reached the target because the upper limit of the 95 percent confidence interval (89.54) is higher than the target (88.46).

  1. What formula is used to generate the upper and lower confidence interval limits?

The formula is included on the AYP Proficiency Targets page.

  1. Does this mean that one school with a given proficiency rate might make AYP while another school with the same proficiency rate would not?

Yes. Sample size directly affects the ranges of confidence intervals – the larger the sample size, the narrower the range. Large disaggregated groups will have relatively narrow confidence intervals compared to small disaggregated groups, which will have wider confidence intervals.

  1. It appears that schools and districts are allowed to use the upper limit of the 95% confidence interval for performance and advanced targets. Can the 95% confidence interval upper limit be used for Participation, Safe Harbor, Matched Safe Harbor, or graduation rate?


AYP Determination Process

  1. Who determines whether a district or school has made AYP?

NCLB is clear that responsibility for defining AYP and making AYP determinations for school districts lies with the State. NCLB also is clear that school districts are responsible for making AYP determinations for their schools. However, the State is responsible for monitoring the process and ensuring that determinations are made uniformly and accurately.

  1. Can schools and districts appeal AYP determinations?

Yes. Schools and districts may appeal AYP determinations on the grounds of statistical or data error. A school may appeal an AYP determination to its district. A district may appeal to the State. Districts and the State have 30 days to resolve appeals and make final determinations.

For Additional Information Contact:

Donna Morganstern
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