Failure to meet ayp

Jenny Glasscock, staff writer

Almost every year, District 204 mails out a letter telling parents and students that Joliet West has not made adequate yearly progress (AYP). The same letter was sent out at the end of July, saying the school didn’t meet the standard for test scores for the 2011-2012 school year, the goal being to have 85% of students meet or exceed standards.

“The State of Illinois set the standards for the scores according to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements,” Karla Guseman, the Assistant Principal for Education Services, described, “with the goal being that by 2013-2014 all students meet or exceed the Illinois Learning Standards.”

If a school does not meet these standards for five years or more, they are required to ‘restructure.’ Since West has not made AYP for the past nine years, the school has to take part in this process. This means the school has to implement changes such as offering other public school options and supplemental educational services, which is basically free extra academic help.

Usually when schools do not meet the AYP, it is allowed for students to transfer to other public schools out of district. However, this year no neighboring schools have agreed to letting students transfer, so the only other transfer option is to Central.

At West, more drastic action might need to be taken to meet the AYP. Reopening as a charter school (an independent, publicly funded school with a different educational philosophy than public schools), replacing teachers, entering a contract with an entity, the state taking over the school, and executing other such restructuring plans are listed in the letter.

Currently the school is putting into effect strategic plans that will help students increase test scores. The school is raising the number of credits mandatory for graduation, adopting the Grade Advancement Policy (GAP) that requires students to pass certain courses in reading, math and science before moving on to the next grade level and more.

The school has been increasing credit requirements over the years to put into effect these plans. For example, the class of 2012 that graduated last year only needed 20 credits to graduate, whereas for the 2013 and every other preceding class are required to have 22 credits.

In a few years, however, the standards will shift as the state takes on a new program.

“ The state of Illinois, along with most other states has agreed to adopt the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) instead of the Illinois Learning Standards and is developing a new testing system that is slated to be implemented in 2015-2016.” said Guseman. “JTHS is currently aligning our curriculum to the new CCSS. ”