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No Educator Left Behind:
Calculating Adequate Yearly Progress

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.


How do schools calculate adequate yearly progress?

U.S. Department of Education:

No Child Left Behind requires all students to participate in a state's annual assessment; a school can make adequate yearly progress (AYP) if at least 95 percent of students, measured by total school population and by subgroup, participate in the testing. That ensures that every child is counted so students who are struggling get the help they need.

Two revisions recently were made to assist schools in meeting the 95 percent participation rate requirement:

  • Average participation rate:A state may use data from the previous one or two years to average the participation rate data for a school and/or subgroup as needed. If the two- or three-year average meets or exceeds 95 percent, the school will meet the AYP requirement. Schools that are performing well in that category, therefore, will not be identified as "in need of improvement" because of a one- or two-year dip in their participation rates. For example, a school might find that its participation rate drops to 94 percent in one year. If in the previous two years, the rates were 95 percent and 96 percent, then the school may average those three years to meet the 95 percent participation rate requirement.

  • Medical emergencies: In rare circumstances, a student cannot take the assessment during the entire testing window, including make-up dates, due to a significant medical emergency. Those circumstances might include, for example, a situation in which a student is recovering from a car accident. Those students remain enrolled at the school, although circumstances prevent them from participating in the testing during the testing window. The new policy allows schools to omit those students when calculating participation rates. That ensures that schools whose averages might be affected by such situations will not be identified for improvement.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.