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October 27, 2003, Extra Credit
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October 27, 2003
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 October 24
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No Excuses At Earl Hanson Elementary School

Following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Quad-City Times:

"The students and teachers at Earl Hanson Elementary School in Rock Island could use demographics as an excuse for failure.

"Seventy-one percent of the students come from low-income families. The number of them moving in and out of the building is higher than the state average. The students come from diverse backgrounds. But there are no excuses at Earl Hanson. Instead, there are people such as teacher Carol Schoening, first-year Principal Debra Desser, retired Principal Sheila Wildermuth and parent Lorene Pearson. They and the 400 students are ensuring positive results.

"Hanson is one of 26 schools in Illinois to be honored as a Spotlight School. While it has a high level of students from low-income families, one of the most significant factors that goes along with educational failure, achievement is high.

"The school's poverty level rose from 58 percent to 71 percent from 2001 to 2003. But during the same time period, test scores rose.

"For example, the percentage of third-graders who can read well increased from 59 percent to 65 percent and math scores improved from 69 percent to 74 percent.

"Fifth-graders also improved over the three years, from 58 percent reading at or above grade level to 62 percent. Seventy-five percent of the fifth-graders had good math scores in 2003, compared with 58 percent in 2001.

"To be chosen a Spotlight School, at least 50 percent of the student body must come from low-income families. And at least 50 percent of the students must have met or exceeded state standards in reading and math during 2002 and at least 60 percent in 2003. The school also is required to meet the attendance, test participation and achievement requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"Marilyn McConachie, the director of the project for Northern Illinois University, said schools that succeed have several components. Ultimately, however, success lies in the fact 'they expect every child to excel and they find ways to make that happen. They don't just raise the bar, they coach every student how to get over it,' she added."

The complete Quad-City Times article is available online.

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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.

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