Per Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is required to establish annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs) for English language acquisition and the academic achievement of limited English proficiency (LEP) students. Title III, also called the 'English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act', has a number of purposes which include:
- to help ensure that children who are limited English proficient, including immigrant children and youth, attain English proficiency, develop high levels of academic attainment in English, and meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards as all children are expected to meet
- to assist all limited English proficient children, including immigrant children and youth, to achieve at high levels in the core academic subjects so that those children can meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards as all children are expected to meet
- to promote parental and community participation in language instruction educational programs for parents and communities of limited English proficient children
- to hold State educational agencies, local education agencies, and schools accountable for increases in English proficiency and core academic content of limited English proficient children by requiring - (A) demonstrated improvements in the English proficiency of limited English proficient children each fiscal year; and (B) adequate yearly progress for limited English proficient children and youth.
In Massachusetts, AMAOs are established for LEP students in grades K-12 in three categories:
(1) Progress toward English language proficiency. The Massachusetts goal for 2011 was for 61% of LEP students to make progress toward proficiency.
(2) Attainment of English language proficiency defined as scoring at the midpoint of Level 4 or above on the Massachusetts English Proficiency Assessment (MEPA) test. The MEPA tests LEP students' proficiency in reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking production. Individual attainment targets were determined for each district based on its students' number of years in Massachusetts(3) Adequate Yearly Progress of the LEP subgroup on the MCAS exam in both English language arts and mathematics.
On January 30, 2012, the Massachusetts DESE released a summary of AMAO data for LEP students in public school districts receiving Title III funds. In order to to be eligible to receive Title III funding, a district or consortium of schools/districts must enroll more than 100 LEP students. It should be noted that under this section of NCLB, schools/districts are required to notify parents of its failure on the AMAOs within 30 days. Of the 58 public /charter school districts receiving Title III funds, 22 did not meet the target goal of 61% of LEP students making progress toward proficiency. Districts not achieving this goal include Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Springfield, Fall River and Taunton. Twenty districts (out of 58) did not meet their targets for the percentage of students actually attaining English language proficiency; Lynn once again is included on this list along with Salem, Metheun, and Lawrence. Finally, out of 51 districts, only seven made AYP in English Language Arts in the LEP student subgroup (Arlington, Barnstable, Brookline, Clinton, Lawrence Family Development Charter, Lexington, and Lowell Community Charter). Similarly only seven (out of 52) districts made AYP in in math for this group (Arlington, Barnstable, Brookline, Lawrence Family Development Charter, Lexington, Lowell Community Charter, and Westborough).
In 2011, Lynn, a district with nearly 20% LEP students, did not meet any of its established AMAOs. Lynn missed the progress target (61%) by one percentage point as 60% of Lynn's LEP students made progress toward proficiency. In terms of attainment, the Lynn missed reaching its target by four percentage points (target: 36%; actual 32%). Before last year, however, the city did meet a minimum of one of its goals related to Title III dating back to at least 2005. Lynn met its attainment goal in 2005 and 2010, its progress and attainment goals in 2006 and 2009 and its progress, attainment and math AYP goals in 2007. Although some question the practice of simply trying to get students proficient in English as quickly as possible, focusing on students with limited English skills is still essential particularly in a city like Lynn which has been charged with educating such a large population of these students.
*To view the full AMAO report: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/amao.aspx