Search form

Boosting AYP, Teacher, Paraprofessional Qualifications

By incorporating the state's accountability system into the definition of adequate yearly progress (AYP), and using grants and mentors to help teachers and paraprofessionals, Escondido (California) Union Elementary School District is seeing improvement.

The Escondido (California) Union Elementary School District, which serves students in grades K-8, has seen its efforts pay off in the areas of adequate yearly progress (AYP) and teacher and paraprofessional qualifications.

Share Your NCLB Strategies

Education World's Working With NCLB feature highlights schools or districts with stories to share about how they are implementing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If you have a Working With NCLB story to share, send an e-mail toEllen Delisio.

California's accountability system, the Academic Performance Index (API), in place for the past four years, has been incorporated into the state definition for AYP under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Two state funded programs, the Immediate Intervention for Underperforming Schools (IIUSP) and the Public Schools Accountability Act, were designed to help schools that were not achieving according to expectations. One advantage for Escondido and other districts in the state is the strong level of understanding that exists among district staff, parents, and the community about school reform. Another advantage is that schools have become accustomed to reviewing the academic progress of racial, ethnic, and low-income subgroups because these groups were in the state's previous AYP system.

For the past three years, Escondido received additional state funding to provide a variety of services at three low-performing elementary schools in the district. The schools identified barriers that prevented student learning and made the adjustments that were needed for change. Literacy coaches for English/language arts were hired to provide demonstration lessons and to coach teachers by providing feedback on lessons they observed in classrooms. The coaches facilitated grade-level meetings and assisted teachers in analyzing assessment data to guide instruction. A principal was moved from one school in an attempt to revitalize the reform movement.

Although California has required schools to track progress for specific subgroups in the past, the subgroups of English language learners and students with disabilities are new as a result of NCLB. Escondido and other California districts are now following the AYP of students in these two new subgroups.


Finding highly qualified teachers has not been an easy task in Escondido, despite efforts made in this area. The district is working to identify ways that teachers can become fully certified in the content areas they teach. The district's main concern is with middle school teachers who are required to hold single subject credentials because of the departmentalized curriculum in the schools. The state of California is in the process of finalizing its Highly Objective Uniform State System of Evaluation (HOUSSE) program that will assess the qualifications of existing teachers. Escondido is analyzing the status of all teachers and working with California State University, San Marcos, to develop appropriate programs to assist with credentialing.

To retain teachers, Escondido has taken advantage of California's Beginning Teacher Support and Assistance (BTSA) program, which pairs new teachers with experienced mentor teachers for one or two years. Training sessions are held during the school year, and the mentors receive small stipends for their additional work. In 2002, a total of 106 Escondido teachers participated in the program along with an equal number of mentor teachers.


Escondido has 123 paraprofessionals in various instructional support positions who are employed in Title I schools, and thus required to meet NCLB qualifications. A freeze was placed on new hires at the start of the 2002-03 school year due to state budget cuts, and considerable staff time is now being utilized to identify the status and needs of all paraprofessionals. The district developed and field-tested a new proficiency test for paraprofessionals based on the California High School Exit Exam. The skills expected on the high school exit exam are far greater than what was expected in the past on California's proficiency tests for paraprofessionals.

Escondido used the exit exam as a base and added more to it. The cut score for passing is greater than what is expected for high school students. This test is now in use, and paraprofessionals are being provided with training to help them pass the test. The plan is to use a combination of performance assessments and the proficiency test to meet NCLB requirements for paraprofessionals who do not have two years of college or an associate's degree.

SOURCE: Center on Education Policy

To read the full report, see A Look Inside 33 School Districts: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act.