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Innovations: Making A Mess Of AYP

Wbbm0907tosseddesks Little noted in all the mind-numbing coverage surrounding the rollout of the i3 "innovations" grant program was the revelation that the USDE not only wanted to make districts that hadn't made AYP eligible for the awards but had already gotten language that would effectively lift AYP for i3 into appropriations language.  I haven't seen the language but this seems like a bad idea to me -- or at least a bad precedent.  Details below.

Wbbm0907tosseddesks EdWeek's Michele McNeil was smart enough to have asked Jim Shelton about the AYP/ eligibility issue during a press call last week.  Shelton's response:

"We anticipate that by the time of this - the actual application is let there may be a different eligibility requirement that would not include AYP...Our goal is to broaden out and to get more districts and more non profits a chance to compete here." (Transcript doc here)

Then Eliza Krigman picked this up for the NatJournal education blog question of the week just posted this AM:

"The Education Department indicated it would prefer lifting the AYP requirement and hopes that pending legislation will allow it to do so by the time the applications are released. Is lifting the AYP requirement a good idea? Would that be a step toward weaker accountability?" (Should The i3 Fund Lift AYP Requirements?)

All five of the responses so far (Ravitch, Brown, Vander Ark, Hunter, Whitehurst) support the Department's move.  Me, I'm going to wait until I see the proposed language before I make a final verdict.  I'm not against revisiting AYP.  I'm just not sure this is the way to do it (behind the scenes, in bits and pieces).   I wouldn't be surprised if the Department wants to make further changes in order to suit i3 or RTTT.  But how many times can you go in and muck about with AYP (or AYP applicability) without creating a real mess?  Or, if you prefer, a new and unfamiliar mess.  How long before advocates and members of Congress pick up on what's going on and want to get in the game more actively?


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