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September 8, 2003, Extra Credit
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September 8, 2003
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In Walla Walla: One Kid At A Time And No Excuses

Following are excerpts from an article in Saturday's Walla Walla Union Bulletin:

"In Walla Walla, Blue Ridge Elementary School could be the poster child for No Child Left Behind and its goals.

"More than 87 percent of its approximately 300 students qualify for free and reduced-price meal programs. More than 77 percent speak English as a second language. More than 10 percent are special education students.

"In short, it qualifies for the most Title I support in the Walla Walla School District. Based on the numbers and research, the school should have low test scores and a wide achievement gap.

"But Blue Ridge scores on the state's fourth-grade reading test met not only the 2003 progress goal, they hit the 2009 target. The math scores met the 2011 target. More than 50 percent of the students passed three of the assessment's four sections. About 30 percent passed all four."

"Teachers said poverty, special needs and limited English proficiency `are facts, not reasons for students not to meet standards.'"

"Changes included incorporating basic reading and math skills into almost every element of the day, including physical education. The school offers extended learning opportunities, ranging from informal study groups to more structured lessons shoring up weak skills. Tutors and teaching assistants work individually or in small groups with students.

"But Boggs said the greatest factor has been a commitment to individual learning plans for students below grade level."

"Boggs said Blue Ridge teachers use common vocabulary and make sure their lessons build from one grade to the next. They use research-based teaching methods and curricula, another hallmark of No Child Left Behind. Teachers constantly adapt teaching to reach students.

"'Student achievement can't change unless teachers change their methods,' she said. 'You have to change what you do and how you do it to increase student achievement.'"

"'I was one of those people who saw the goal and thought, `Oh my.' Now, not only do we expect it, the students do it,' Callahan said. 'At Blue Ridge, we don't make excuses for not doing it.'"



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About Extra Credit
NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

If you would like the NCLB Extra Credit emailed to you, please send a request to Geoff Goodman at NoChildLeftBehindUpdate@ed.gov or call (202) 205-9191.

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