COLONIAL BEACH, Virginia (STPNS) -- By now most of Virginia, let alone Colonial Beach, knows that AYP means Average Yearly Progress.

That it's the measurable benchmarks established to ensure that schools are in compliance with the 2001 Federal No Child Left Behind Act, which states as its main purpose, ?the goals of 100 percent proficiency of all students in reading and mathematics by 2014.?

That?s only seven years away, and while 58 (or 44%) of Virginia?s school divisions made AYP, 74 (or 56%) did not, including Colonial Beach and Westmoreland County. Both systems are Title I schools that receive Federal Funds aimed at providing assistance to high risk students in high poverty areas.



So what does it mean to a Title I school to not make AYP? How does it affect them?

A Title I school that does not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same content area is considered in "improvement". A school that is in improvement must inform parents of their standing before the beginning of the school year and offer what is known as "school choice". School choice is the opportunity for schools to offer students the ability to transfer to a school within the same division that is not recognized as in improvement. The cost of transportation is covered by Title I monies.

For the Westmoreland County school system for instance, Washington District Elementary school did not make AYP while Cople Elementary did. This means that parents within the Westmoreland County School System have a choice as to where they send their children.

For students in Colonial Beach, the options are somewhat more limited for there is but one elementary school and one high school neither of which made AYP. According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, if all schools within a division are recognized as in improvement than the school must look outside of its own division.

Specifically, ?if all public schools served by the school division to which a student may transfer are identified for Title I School Improvement, corrective action or restructuring, the school division shall, to the extent practicable, establish a cooperative agreement with other school divisions in the area for transfer.?

For the students of the Colonial Beach School System that means high school students could be eligible for transfer to Washington and Lee High School or either county elementary school, since none of them are in improvement. Lowest achieving students from low income families are given priority. In addition, a two-year school improvement plan must be structured and implemented.

If a Title I school does not make AYP for three consecutive years in the same subject area it is identified as being in its second year of improvement and along with offering school choice, must now also offer Supplemental Education Services or SES.

These services are again paid for with Title I monies not to exceed 20 percent of the total funds. What this actually means is that a school must offer to parents of low achieving students the opportunity to take advantage of one of the many programs recognized by the Federal Government as an approved SES provider; programs like the ones offered at the Sylvan Learning Center located in Fredericksburg.

According to SES In Action: A Toolkit For Parents and Community Leaders and their ?Who Does What? chart, it is the school division?s responsibility to: ?identify eligible students, notify families about provider options, contract with and pay providers, work with provider, schools and families to set goals for each student and provide data to the state.? Divisions can host ?provider fairs? so families can learn more about SES and compare provider services. It is suggested that parents contact their school division?s SES coordinator before the end of the school year.

?In Northern Virginia, the Communities in Schools PIRC hosts spa days and invites mothers of children eligible for SES to get free manicures and massages while learning about SES and NCLB (No Child Left Behind).?

A PIRC is a Parent Information and Resource Center. PIRCs are funded by dollars from the U.S. Department of Education, ?to provide information and resources to families, educators and community organizations about school improvement, student achievement, and NCLB?. To find your local PIRC go to www.pirc-info.net/overview.asp

Supplemental Education Services are offered first to low-income students and those receiving free/reduced lunch are priority. However, according to Charles Pyle, Director of Communications for the Virginia Department of Education, they (the VDOE) are looking at that system of disbursing funds. According to Pyle, these may not be the students who actually take advantage of these services, whose parents open the letter, read and act on its contents.

For FY07, Westmoreland County received $435,000 in Title I funds, and Colonial Beach received $359,850. Within the Colonial Beach School system, these funds are used for a variety of programs such as the SOL nights as well as salaries for the school?s paraprofessionals and Director of Federal Programs.

Should Colonial Beach Elementary school not make AYP for the third consecutive year, then 20% of that number, or $71,970, would be designated for Supplemental Education Services.

The question could be asked what kind of chain reaction might occur if $71,970 is diverted from programs currently in place, and how many students will that $71,970 actually impact?

The federal government has a suggested expenditure of $2,100 per eligible student, whereas Virginia typically recommends $1,200-$1,400. Using those figures would mean that only 34 to 59 students could be served, which is less than half the students in the school.

If AYP is not successfully achieved for a 4th year and a school is designated as being in Year III of Improvement, then in conjunction with the previous stipulations of SES and School Choice, the school is now identified for corrective action and must do at least one of the following: replace school staff relevant to the failure, institute and implement a new curriculum, significantly decrease management authority in the school, appoint outside experts to advise the school, extend school year or school day, restructure internal organization of the school.

Missing AYP for year number five will result in the planning phase of restructuring the school and a miss of AYP for year 6, its implementation.

Benchmark testing throughout the year should allow our local schools to formulate a prediction towards year end as to how they?ll measure up.

Will they make AYP or not? Remember AYP is decided when ?each group of students meets or exceed statewide annual objective AND for each group, 95% of students enrolled participate in the assessment on which AYP is based.?