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April 26, 2004, Extra Credit
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April 26, 2004

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Chicago Student Transfer Under NCLB, A "Win-Win-Win" Says Chicago Schools CEO

Under No Child Left Behind, in the first year that a school is considered to be in need of improvement, parents receive the option to transfer their child to another public school, including a charter school, in their district. The following are excerpts from a recent Chicago Sun-Times article highlighting how students in Chicago are benefiting from this choice provision:

"Kids who won highly prized transfers out of failing Chicago public schools averaged much better reading and math gains during the first year in their new schools —just as drafters of the federal No Child Left Behind Law envisioned, an exclusive analysis indicates. And, contrary to some predictions, moving low-scoring kids to better-performing schools didn't seem to slow the progress of students in those higher-achieving schools. Even kids 'left behind' in struggling schools generally posted better gains in state tests once their peers transferred elsewhere. 'It's a win-win-win,' said Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan. 'I couldn't have asked for better results.'"

"Craig Jerald, senior policy analyst with the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., said the study was a good first crack at trying to answer the threshold question about the 2002 law: Did the transfer kids show more improvement in their new schools than in their old ones? 'The answer is a great big 'Yes,'' said Jerald, whose organization focuses on learning achievement gaps. 'Based on these numbers, the transfers in Chicago appear to be working exactly as the framers of the law hoped.'"

"'My son has made almost a 360-degree turnaround,' said Tammie Summerville, whose son, Isaac, now 10, barely paid attention in school and balked at doing homework— until he won a coveted seat at Dixon Elementary, in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood. 'Now, he enjoys school,' Summerville said. 'I'm happy I switched.'"

"In their sending schools, transfer kids posted 24 percent less than the expected gain in reading, and 17 percent less than the expected gain in math. But in their new schools, transfer kids produced 8 percent more gains than the average student — in reading and math. Their improvement was 'statistically significant' in both subjects, said the Education Trust's Jerald. Especially in reading, the change in the pace of their growth was 'huge,' he said."

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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: 01/31/2008