Failure of Schools Might Lead to School Choice

, Lindalyn Kakadelis, Leave a comment

This week,
North Carolina schools presented citizens with a good news/bad
news proposition. As forecasted in last week’s journal entry, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for
North Carolina schools were released Monday. Not surprisingly,
this year’s results show a higher percentage of schools
not meeting more stringent federal accountability

So, what’s the good news? For starters,
children in failing schools will now have greater options,
including public school choice and supplemental services. The
bad news? Tracking down these options is no easy task.
Information on sanctioned schools is not readily
available, making it very difficult for parents and citizens
to understand their rights under federal law. In addition,
sanctions apply only to Title 1 schools (schools receiving
federal funding for low-income families), meaning that about
half of the schools in our state have relative impunity when
it comes to AYP.

Title 1 schools not making AYP for two
years are instructed by the U.S. Department of Education to
send parents a letter, alerting them to the school’s
status, and highlighting student eligibility for public school choice. If schools miss AYP
for three years, students may receive tutoring services. However, obtaining
general information − matching sanctioned schools with
services or choice provisions − is both difficult and
confusing. The North Carolina Department of Public
does not provide a centrally-located,
current list of Title 1 schools failing to make AYP for two or
more consecutive years. Instead, citizens must link to each
school district’s web site to find out if a particular school
made AYP. The school system determines how user-friendly their
data is − that is, if they even have a working web

To shed some light on this issue, I conducted a
preliminary search of some area school systems. Here’s what I

While school
systems may dabble in obfuscation, they must comply
with federal law. In the final analysis, knowledge is the best
defense, so arm yourself with information. Understanding your
school’s AYP status, as well as sanctions and services, will
ensure full accountability on the part of schools, maximizing
educational opportunity for struggling students across the