October 15, 2003 Achiever
Archived Information

 October 15, 2003 • Vol. 2, No. 14
    PDF version Share this page Share this page
  Past issues
  Subscribe    Unsubscribe    Reprint
What's inside...
No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Announced
The Little School That's Big on Success
Close-Up: No Child Left Behind—Supplemental Services
Paige's Circle
Teacher Toolkit and Guidance Define "Highly Qualified" Rule

No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools Announced

More than 230 of the nation's public and private elementary and high schools will be honored as No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools at an event in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30-31.

No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools are recognized as outstanding schools that adhere to the core principles of President Bush's sweeping education reform law. The new program recognizes schools that dramatically improve student performance and schools with students from disproportionately disadvantaged backgrounds who perform at the highest levels.

"In keeping with the principles of No Child Left Behind, we reward schools based on student achievement results," Secretary Rod Paige said. "Starting this year, the program has a new name, No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools, and it recognizes schools that produce results for all students-regardless of race, socioeconomic status or zip code."

The 233 schools were selected based on two assessment criteria:

  • Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and that dramatically improve student performance according to state assessment tests; or
  • Schools that score in the top 10 percent of the state on state assessment tests.
Of the schools nominated by each state, at least one-third must have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds and show dramatic academic improvement.

For more information about the 2003 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools program, including a list of current winners, please see


The Little School That's Big on Success

Rural Delaware School Reaps Rewards for Student Achievement
By Maggie Riechers

The motto of Phillip C. Showell Elementary School is: "the little school that's big on learning." And if the number of awards it has won recently is any indication, it is also big on success. A 2003 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon School, and a National Distinguished Title I School for three of the last four years, this small, rural Delaware school is setting a standard that makes sure no student is adrift.

"The staff here really has an attitude that no child can be left behind," says principal Ivan Neal. "We truly believe that, and we have a process in place to help any child who has a problem." That process includes flagging a struggling child and setting up a meeting with the principal, reading specialist, counselor, teacher and special education teacher, if necessary. "We then discuss a strategy for helping the student and make the teacher aware of the resources available," he adds.

"From the moment they are born, our children's lives are shaped by the education we provide them. Education expands eager young minds; a lack of education stifles and limits them. The chance to learnand to read and write should never be only the privilege of a few, royalty or the rich, the first-born or sons. Education is the birthright of every human being—all the world's sons and all the world's daughters."

Mrs. Laura Bush, in her remarks at the 32nd General Conferenceof the United Nations Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganization, Oct. 3, in Paris.

Though much smaller than the average elementary school of 600 students, Showell serves a diverse student population. Sixty-five percent of its students are white, 25 percent are black and 10 percent are Hispanic. Economically, the school's disadvantaged population is typical of a rural community: 47 percent of the student population qualifies for Title I funding, which is given to schools with the highest percentages of students from low-income families. In the Selbyville area, where the school is located, the main employer is the chicken industry, which provides blue-collar jobs to many families in the area.

Nonetheless, the school has made a commitment to this multicultural community by creating a partnership where students are "our priority. ... We want our students to reach their fullest potential," says Neal, who has been principal at the school since 2001.

Students seem to be rising to these expectations. In state testing conducted in the spring of 2003, 85 percent of third-graders met the state standards in math and 91.5 percent in reading, while 87 percent of fifth-graders met the state standard in math and 89 percent in reading.

A key to this success has been an emphasis on "differentiated instruction" to accommodate a broad range of needs. In other words, teachers look at each student individually and assess what help he or she requires. This is achieved through schoolwide programs, such as "Success Strategies."

"We build in a block of time, 30 to 45 minutes every day in each classroom, for the teacher to target what each class needs to enhance student success," says Neal. During this time, specialists and paraprofessionals can address individual student needs, and students can work in small groups on whatever academic or social issue that needs to be addressed.

Plenty of time is also given to language arts and math instruction, up to 90 minutes for language arts and 60 minutes for math each day. The school uses a reading program that incorporates repetition to reinforce basic building blocks. It also includes a strong writing component. A literacy activity book enables teachers to help develop higher order thinking skills and emphasizes comprehension, spelling and vocabulary.

Showell has many other programs that contribute to its effectiveness: extended day kindergarten; "Early Success" in the lower grades and "Soar to Success" in the upper grades, both designed to give individual students extra help by working with a paraprofessional or specialist; a summer school program to help students keep up their skills; and weekly recognition of a "Star Student" in each class.

The school also has a mentoring program coordinated by school counselor Cheryl Carey. She targets students who need extra nurturing and recruits community members to work with them. "The long range goal is to provide a positive adult role model," says principal Neal, himself a mentor. "The counselor works hard to choose students who may need help." Last year, 43 mentors-retirees, employees and school staff-signed up to mentor a student one day a week.

The real key to Showell's success, however, is its warm, nurturing atmosphere. "We have an unbelievable staff who do what it takes to help a child," says counselor Carey. "For many of our kids, the time from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the best part of their day, so we want to make it special for them. People come into our school and see what it is all about, and they get a sense of family."

For more information about Showell Elementary, visit


Close-Up: No Child Left Behind—Supplemental Services

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, children from low-income families who attend Title I schools designated as needing improvement may be eligible to receive additional academic services or tutoring.

If a school is identified by its state for three or more years as not making the progress required to ensure that every child is proficient at grade level in reading and math, low-income students attending the school have the opportunity to receive supplemental educational services.

Elements of the supplemental educational services provisions are:

Eligible students: Eligible students are those from low-income families who are enrolled in a school that has been identified by its state for three or more years as not making the progress required to ensure that every child is proficient at grade level in reading and math. If funds are not sufficient to provide supplemental educational services to all eligible students, the school district gives priority to the lowest-achieving eligible students.

Paige's Circle
Secretary Paige delivered his annual back-to-school speech at the National Press Club on Sept. 24. The speech, "Education in America: The Complacency Must End," is excerpted below.

"Measuring results is a hallmark of the private sector, where [managers have] to be held accountable to their shareholders. ... We've already tried spending more money on the system with no measurement of results. ... In fact, we've tried it for the last three decades. ...

"As a nation, we now spend over $470 billion dollars a year on K-12 education-more than on defense. ... Don't be duped, it's not that we don't spend enough. We spend more than many other nations, and still get poor results. ...

"Education is an act of trust. Parents expect educators to perform competently and proficiently. ... No Child Left Behind provides a guarantee that we are doing everything possible to honor the trust placed in us, to maximize the learning experience for each student, and to provide the best possible future for each child. ...

"Some worry that instruction will center on 'teaching to the test.' But there is nothing wrong with 'teaching to the test,' if you are testing something that students need to learn."

For the secretary's full remarks, visit

Parental choice: Parents of eligible children select the provider from a list of state-approved providers that the parents believe can provide the supplemental educational services most appropriate for their child.

Providers: Any type of for-profit or nonprofit entity (including businesses, faith- and community-based organizations, schools and even individuals) can become a provider of supplemental educational services. But in order to become an approved provider in a state, an entity must demonstrate to the state that it provides high-quality services and has a record of improving student achievement.

Accountability for results: Providers must enter into agreements with local school districts specifying a timetable for improving a child's academic achievement. States must withdraw approval from any provider that fails, over a two-year period, to meet its goals for raising achievement.

Currently, there are more than 1,400 approved providers of supplemental services. For more information, visit or call 1-800-USA-LEARN.


New Resources!
Teacher Toolkit and Guidance Define "Highly Qualified" Rule

President Bush and Secretary Paige recently unveiled a new "toolkit" to provide the nation's educators with reader-friendly information about No Child Left Behind, and, in particular, the law's "highly qualified teacher" provisions.

Under the law, all new teachers must be licensed or certified by the state, hold at least a bachelor's degree and meet rigorous state requirements to demonstrate mastery of subject knowledge. States were required to ensure that new teachers in Title I schools met these requirements starting in the 2002-03 school year.

The new toolkit also includes information about loan forgiveness, tax credits and liability protection for teachers, links to helpful Web sites and guidance on understanding the federal, state and local roles in the No Child Left Behind law.

The Department is distributing the toolkits to teachers, education leaders and various education organizations across the nation.

For an online version, visit To order a paper copy, contact the Department's Publications Center (ED Pubs) by calling toll-free at 1-877-4-ED-PUBS; ordering online at; or e-mailing

In addition, the Department just issued an updated version of the Improving Teacher Quality Non-Regulatory Guidance, which clarifies a number of provisions affecting teachers under the law, including the definition of "full state certification" and the criteria under which a state determines whether teachers of core academic subjects in grades 6, 7 and 8 must meet subject-area competencies. A copy is available online at



The Achiever is published semi-monthly during the school year for parents and community leaders by the Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, U.S. Department of Education (ED). Rod Paige, Secretary.

For questions and comments, contact: Nicole Ashby, Editor, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Room 5E217, Washington, DC 20202, 202-205-0676 (fax),

For address changes and subscriptions, contact: ED Pubs, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794, 1-877-4ED-PUBS (1-877-433-7827),

For information on ED programs, resources and events, contact: Information Resource Center, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20202, 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327),

Disclaimer: The Achiever contains news and information about public and private organizations for the reader's information. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any products or services offered or views expressed.



Thank you for your interest in The Achiever, the U.S. Department of Education's biweekly bulletin on No Child Left Behind, the historic, bipartisan education reform law signed by President Bush in January 2002. We are delighted to hear that the newsletter is providing you with the resources needed to help you in your efforts to improve education.

Because The Achiever is a publication of the Education Department and, therefore, in the public domain, you are free to reprint or photocopy the articles. We simply ask that you give full credit to the Department with the suggested citation:

Source: U.S. Department of Education, The Achiever, [Date of issue].

Again, thank you for using our newsletter to communicate to a larger audience the information and resources that are available through No Child Left Behind.



To unsubscribe from The Achiever:

Photo of President Bush and the quote "When it comes of the education of our children...failure is not an option."--President George W. Bush


Print this page Printable view Send this page Share this page
Last Modified: 12/03/2007