School Performance/Accountability

In Indiana, two laws set the standard for ensuring students and schools continue to improve: 1) the No Child Left Behind Act at the federal level and 2) Public Law 221 at the state level. Learn more about these school accountability laws below.

Public Law 221

Public Law 221 (P.L. 221) is Indiana’s comprehensive accountability system for K-12 education. Passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 1999 with broad bipartisan backing and the support of the business and education communities, the law aimed to establish major educational reform and accountability statewide.
To measure progress, P.L. 221 places Indiana schools into one of the following five categories based upon improvement and performance data from the state’s ISTEP+ assessments:

  • Exemplary Progress
  • Commendable Progress
  • Academic Progress
  • Academic Watch (priority)
  • Academic Probation (high priority)

No Child Left Behind

Beginning with the 2002-03 school year, The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) has required schools to show annual improvements in the academic achievement of the overall student population and of identified student subgroups within the general population, including economic background, race and ethnicity, limited English proficiency and special education.
Under NCLB, adequate yearly progress (AYP) designations for Indiana school corporations and schools are determined by student achievement and participation rates on ISTEP+ in English/language arts and mathematics; student attendance rates (for elementary and middle schools); and high school graduation rates (for high schools). Schools must make AYP in all student groups in order to meet AYP. The goal of NCLB is for all students to achieve proficiency in English/language arts and mathematics by 2014.

Public Law 221 vs. No Child Left Behind

Though Indiana’s accountability law preceded the No Child Left Behind Act by two years, states were required to incorporate the federal law into their existing accountability systems. This is why Indiana schools that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB for two consecutive years cannot receive a placement higher than “Academic Progress” under the state system. Other differences between the P.L. 221 and AYP include the following:

  • AYP only measures the percentage of students passing ISTEP+. P.L. 221 incorporates improvement as well as performance.
  • AYP uses year-to-year comparisons of the same grade level(s). P.L. 221 tracks student cohorts from year-to-year.
  • AYP is unaffected by P.L. 221; P.L. 221 category placements are capped at Academic Progress for those schools where the same student subgroup fails to make AYP for two consecutive years.
  • AYP disaggregates data by student demographic subgroups. P.L. 221 does not use disaggregated data but instead factors in AYP determinations as part of category placements.
  • AYP consequences (improvement status) apply only to Title I schools. P.L. 221 consequences apply to both Title I and non-Title I schools.
  • AYP bases accountability on students enrolled in the school 162 days in the year preceding testing. P.L. 221 uses 126 days in the improvement measure (mobility is not used for the performance measure in P.L. 221).