School progress measurement: AYP gives way to SPI
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 11:27

Change seeks to highlight each school’s needs

by Bill Gates

    Say goodbye to AYP. Give a hearty welcome to SPI. And prepare for a rough transition period.
    First introduced after the passage of the the federal No Child Left Behind Act nearly a decade ago, AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) was a way of measuring a school’s progress in attaining certain goals.
    Schools that failed to meet their AYP targets were considering “in need of  improvement.”
    The new SPI (School Progress Index) is an accountability system intended to assess each Maryland school on its individual goals, rather than by an absolute measure.

It takes into account a school’s progress determined by overall student performance, student growth, closing of gaps between the highest and lowest student subgroups, and preparation for college and careers.
    In a press release, Maryland Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery called SPI a better yardstick for school performance.
    “We should be rewarding those underperforming schools that have started to make real progress, just as we should be taking a closer look at top schools whose progress may have stalled in some areas,” Dr. Lowery said in the release.
    “Each school now has its own targets at which to aim, and that paves the way for continued progress in all classrooms.”
    The SPI is calculated differently for kindergarten through eighth grade and for the high school level.
    In K-8, SPI is calculated through three indicators: achievement (Maryland School Assessment — MSA — scores in math, reading and science), growth (improvement in math and reading MSAs) and gap reduction (reducing the achievement gap between the low- and high-performing student subgroups in state assessments).
    The SPI for high schools is calculated through achievement (high school assessment scores in algebra/data analysis, English and biology), gap reduction (reducing those achievement gaps between the lowest and highest performers) and college- and career-readiness (graduation rate and college/career preparation).
    College and career readiness is measured by a student’s success in: Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses; Career and Technology Education (CTE) concentrations; or enrollment in college.
Placing Strands
    Each school will receive a score for each indicator and an Overall Progress Index.
    This will place the school into different strands labeled one through five; with Strand One being a high-performing school and Strand Five being one in need of serious improvement.
    The strands, according to the state Board of Education press release, will allow the school systems to better target resources by organizing schools for recognition, support and possible intervention.
    Strand 1 schools have an SPI of 1.0 or higher, have met the targets described above and are usually meeting and exceeding academic standards for all students.
    Strand 2 schools have an SPI greater than or equal to 0.9 and will have met at least two of their three targets. They may be relatively high-performing schools with targeted needs that, when addressed, could raise them into Strand 1.
    Strand 3 schools have an SPI greater than or equal to 0.9 and have met at least one of their three targets. They may have multiple subgroups struggling to achieve standards or may have intensive problems for one very lowperforming subgroup.
    Strand 4 schools have an SPI greater than or equal to 0.9 and have not met any of their targets. Most often, a systemic change will be necessary for improvement.
    Strand 5 schools have an SPI lower than 0.9, although they may have met as many as two of their targets. These will be the lowest-performing schools in the state and would be subject to turnaround efforts and eligible for School Improvement Grants and other funds.
Local schools
    Four local schools, all elementary schools, are in Strand 1: Bear Creek (SPI of 1.057), Charlesmont (1.043), Chesapeake Terrace (1.204) and Edgemere (1.095).
    The Strand 2 schools are: Sparrows Point High (1.124), Dundalk Elementary (1.066), Grange Elementary (1.048), Norwood Elementary (.999), Dundalk Middle (.995) and Holabird Middle (1.000).
    Strand 3 schools: Dundalk High (.947), Patapsco High (.977), Berkshire Elementary (.998), Logan Elementary (.952), Sandy Plains Elementary (.990) and Sparrows Point Middle (.971).
    Strand 4 schools: Battle Grove Elementary (.953)’ Colgate Elementary (.915), and General John Stricker Middle (.913).
    The Eastwood Center, which is due to be closed under a Baltimore County plan to merge its students with Norwood Elementary, is a Strand 5 school (.773).
High school specifics
    Dundalk High did not meet goals in achievement and gap reduction.
    It did meet goals in graduation rate and college preparation.
    “The target for the school next year is to make a 2% improvement in each area,” principal Tom Shouldice said. “That is what SPI is all about: yearly progress.
    “My goal is to move us from Strand 3 to Strand 2 by the end of the year. It is going to be tough, but we are working hard at it.”
    For Patapsco High, goals were met in achievement, but not in gap reduction and college/career readiness.
    Sparrows Point came up short in college and career prep, but met goals in achievement and in gap reduction.

Baltimore County
    The county as a whole had an SPI of .9767, falling just short of reaching the 1.0 target.
    Baltimore County elementary schools had an overall SPI of 1.005, while middle schools had a score of .946 and high schools were .977.
    Baltimore County placed 51 schools in Strand 1, 53 schools in Strand 2, 31 schools in Strand 3, 19 schools in Strand 4 and seven in Strand 5.
    “Clearly, we are progressing as a system,” Baltimore County Superintendent of Schools S. Dallas Dance said in a statement. “[These new data] provide a wealth of information needed to more accurately diagnose problem areas as well as calibrate our programs to maximize their effectiveness in the classroom.”
    To view the SPI scores and other results online, go to Go to the pull-down menu at the top of the page labeled “school,” then highlight “Baltimore County.”