Yesterday urban school leaders testified before members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce regarding the impact of No Child Left Behind on student achievement in big city schools. The following are quotes from some of the testimonies:
Dr. Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools: "Our most recent report [Beating the Odds IV, http://www.cgcs.org/reports/beat_the_oddsIV.html] attempted to answer the question, Have urban schools improved student achievement since No Child Left Behind was enacted? The answer appears to be yes. Between the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 school years (the period since NCLB), the percentage of urban 4th graders scoring at or above proficiency levels on their respective state reading tests increased from 42.9 percent to 47.8 percentan increase of 4.9 percentage points. The percentage of urban 4th graders scoring at or above proficiency levels on their respective state math tests increased from 44.2 percent to 51.0 percentan increase of 6.8 percentage points."
Dr. Eric Smith, superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools (Maryland): " This law has fundamentally transformed the debate about public education in this country by changing the discussion from one about the lack of student achievement and issues beyond the control of schools and school systems to one about using research-proven strategies to ensure that each child can read, compute, and write on grade level. Anne Arundel County Public Schools has just received the results of its mandated state assessment in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. These results demonstrate the importance of accountability in my district. We knew that for the last [school year], 2002-2003, 63.8% of all third graders were proficient and advanced in reading. Some might think it is great that nearly two-thirds of the district's third graders were proficient in reading, but it highlighted for everyone that more than one-third of our third graders were basic in reading. I refuse to accept that some students can learn at high levels and that some students can't. This is something that we were able to focus on and improve. For the 2003-2004 school year, 78.5% of third graders were proficient/advanced."
Paul Vallas, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: "The School District of Philadelphia has demonstrated that substantial education reform can be achieved by using existing resources to fund education priorities. In short, our philosophy is about sending all available dollars into the classroom. We will continue to use the tools provided us under the No Child Left Behind Act to accomplish this, and we will not allow excuses to get in the way of achievement."
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