July 16, 2004 Extra Credit
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July 16, 2004

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Changing What Goes on in America's Classrooms

Earlier this week, the Education Commission of the States (ECS) released a report on the states' implementation of No Child Left Behind. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said of the report: "The commission's analysis shows that states have indeed made considerable progress implementing No Child Left Behind, particularly in the areas of standards, assessments and accountability." The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor highlighting the ECS report and the vital improvements No Child Left Behind is bringing to America's schools:

"Despite a tide of resistance in school districts all over the country, federal education reforms now in their third year are beginning to do what few such efforts ever achieve: change what goes on in American classrooms. For the first time in US history, an overwhelming majority of states now test new teachers. They also test nearly all students, including those deemed learning disabled. And they are publicly reporting information on the safety conditions in public schools that either hadn't been collected or was locked away in file drawers, according to a study on the state implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act released Wednesday by the Education Commission of the States."

"Teachers in Pueblo, Colo., thought they were doing a good job educating mostly poor and Hispanic kids - until they started seeing statewide test results. 'We called it "CSAT shock,"' says school superintendent Joyce Bales of Colorado's student assessment program. 'People thought they were doing a lot better than they were.' … 'I fully support No Child Left Behind,' says Ms. Bales, who calls her district 'the most data-driven district in the state.' In a recent study of Colorado schools that 'beat the odds' in educating poor students, six of the 20 were in her district."

"One of the surprises of the new act has been its impact on suburban districts. Bolstered by above-average aggregate test scores, these schools had been viewed as doing a good job, until disaggregated results revealed weaknesses. 'Suburban school districts … didn't expect to have schools on watch lists,' says Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy in Washington. '[NCLB] made them realize they are accountable for all groups.'"

"African-American parents in Lower Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb, were shocked to learn that 60 percent of black students score below proficient levels in a district known for its high performance. 'NCLB has uncovered data that had been previously buried in our district and other districts as well,' says Linda Heller, a member of Concerned Black Parents, a new local advocacy group that is using NCLB data to lobby for more help for low-performing students. One result: Special programs this summer to build skills for children who are below proficiency."

The complete text of this 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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Last Modified: 07/19/2004