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November 19, 2003, Extra Credit
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November 19, 2003
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 November 18
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"Let's Get The Work Done"

Writing in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Dr. Barbara S. Nielsen, a former state superintendent of education and a senior scholar at the Strom Thurmond Institute at Clemson University, responds to critics of No Child Left Behind. She concludes by observing that: "After more than 20 years of reform and billions of dollars, there is no excuse for leaving any child behind. The S.C. Education Accountability Act and NCLB provide the opportunity for us to keep that commitment. Let's get the work done." Following are excerpts from her column:

On the difficulty of enacting the NCLB reforms

"In fact, South Carolina already has enacted most of the reform requirements contained in NCLB. In 1998, we passed and funded the S.C. Education Accountability Act that is very similar to NCLB of 2001.

"Both require high academic standards, a statewide assessment system that tests all students, performance criteria, an accountability system, goals, objectives and timelines for accomplishments, reporting of results, identification of low-performing schools, intervention, assistance and improvement of teacher quality, remedial services, annual report cards at state, district and school levels, school rewards and recognition of academic achievement, flexibility and targeted technical assistance."

On English Language Learners

"An area that has generated great concern is with the requirement of testing all students, including non-English-speaking students. Several persons have commented on how unfair this is. NCLB clearly states that unless a child has attended a U.S. school for three or more consecutive years, he or she does not have to be tested in English. It is suggested that a reasonable accommodation be made by the state. In addition, the state is required to administer a test of English proficiency to non-English-speaking students and develop a plan for English language acquisition.

"Our state receives $2,384,745 a year to assist in carrying out this provision of the law. As South Carolina already has new assessments in place, we can use some of the $6,179,388 received annually for assessments to help with this task."

On consequences for schools

"Other concerns have been expressed about the 'restructuring of the school and district' language in NCLB. It is important to note that the requirement is after five years of data and intense technical assistance. The S.C. Education Accountability Act gives the state superintendent that authority after a much shorter period of time. One should also point out that the federal government, since 1965, has required school improvements to be made, and South Carolina has required improvements since 1984."

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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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Last Modified: 03/24/2008