Achievement Trends of Schools and Students in Arizona’s Title I School Improvement Program

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Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

This report describes how Arizona public schools found to need improvement under Title I of No Child Left Behind are distributed across various levels under the improvement scheme, compares trends in reading and math proficiency for students attending schools at each level and examines patterns of movement in and out of school improvement status among Title I schools. It also shows that even schools that didn’t meet their annual goals have shown marked rises in their test scores.

The report primarily addresses the following research questions and objectives about Arizona students and public schools—how many schools are struggling to meet improvement guidelines, where the schools are located and how various schools moved in and out of various improvement categories from the 2005-06 school year to the 2008-09 school year. Schools in “improvement” may be spread across various levels, based largely on how many consecutive years a school has failed to improve test scores. The number of years of “failure” triggers various levels of assistance to the schools and students.

Overall, the study found that the percentage and number of Arizona schools in improvement (that is, failed to meet yearly goals) are increasing. Of Arizona’s 1,912 public schools in the 2008-09 school year, 62 percent (1,181) received Title I funding. Among those 1,181, 26 percent were in improvement. That compares with the 2005-06 school year, when 56 percent of public schools received Title I funding and 14 percent of those were schools in Improvement.

In 2008-09, more Title I middle schools were deemed in need of improvement (52 percent) than high schools (39 percent) and elementary schools (18 percent).

During this same time period reading and math proficiency increased for students in all three school types (based on their school type in 2008-09). In 2008-09, Arizona Title I schools in improvement had student proficiency rates of 43 percent to 61 percent, Title I Schools not in improvement had rates of 60 percent to 71 percent and non-Title I schools had proficiency rates of 76 percent to 84 percent. However, since the 2005-06 school year, the schools in improvement made proficiency gains of 5 percentage points to 9 percentage points, more than  Title I schools not in Improvement (3 percentage points to 7 percentage points) and non-Title I Schools (less than 1 percentage point to 4 percentage points).

Among the 978 schools receiving Title I funding throughout the period of study, more schools, both by percentage and number, entered the school improvement program than schools that left the program.

Of the 132 Title I schools in improvement when the study began, 20 percent improved enough to leave the program before the study ended (one school reentered); and of the 846 Title I Schools not in improvement when the study began, 23 percent performed poorly enough to enter before it ended. If a school does not meet requirements in English language arts, math, and / or high school graduate rate, they are placed in the need improvement category. Schools must also have an average in a two-year period of 95 percent of students participating in state standardized tests.

The study notes that although Arizona’s reading and math proficiency rates grew steadily throughout the study period, its number of schools in improvement doubled, which could show that adequate yearly progress targets are outpacing performance improvements.

For the full, free 33-page report click here.