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November 14, 2003, Extra Credit
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November 14, 2003
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School Officials In Norfolk, VA See Opportunity "To Address The Needs Of All Students"

In a recent article in School Board News—"Urban district views NCLB as an opportunity to improve schools"—school officials in Norfolk, Virginia outlined how their district is approaching No Child Left Behind. Following are excerpts from the article:

On The Overall View Of No Child Left Behind: "'While there are difficult challenges to meet the standards of No Child Left Behind, we view it more as an opportunity,' says Superintendent John O. Simpson. 'The law gives us opportunities to address the needs of all students.' Gloria Hagans, senior director for compensatory programs, voices a similar view. 'We're not at all panicked or pessimistic. I've seen the difference the law has made in people in looking at the big picture.'"

On Accountability: "What NCLB is adding to this initiative is more pressure to produce results, particularly in Title I schools, [St. Helena Elementary School Principal Lillian C. Thomas] says. 'We are looking closer at how we are actually utilizing the money, and we're getting more accurate data to show that the funds are being used appropriately.'"

On Using Assessment Data: "A year ago, [Norfolk school officials] stepped up their efforts by merging staff development and curriculum instruction staffs into a single program that will help push data-driven decision making and best practices to the instructional level. The latest AYP numbers are seen as 'an additional data source for us,' [Hagans] says. 'We're peeling away the layers with a subgroup focus. This has allowed the district to look closer at this kind of additional data, and based on that, we know there are some things we need to be working on.'"

On Highly Qualified Teachers: "To respond to the mandate for highly qualified teachers and paraprofessionals, school officials have joined forces with nearby Tidewater Community College in a program to help teacher aides complete two years of college. The school system also has set up its own training program to certify aides as having the educational qualifications required by law."

On Reaching Out To Parents: "Meanwhile, school officials have worked hard to educate the community through letters to parents, fliers, and online information about the law's likely impact on Norfolk schools, and the district publishes regular NCLB updates in the school system's newsletter."

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Last Modified: 03/24/2008