Under No Child Left Behind, schools that do not meet state defined achievement benchmarks in reading and math for two years in a row are deemed "in need of improvement." While certainly every school should always be looking for ways to improve, schools identified for improvement are specifically required to work with parents, school staff, the local education agency, and outside experts to develop an improvement plan. The following are excerpts from an article by The Associated Press highlighting an elementary school in South Dakota that saw their "in need of improvement" status as an opportunity to raise achievement for all students:
"Alcester-Hudson Elementary was labeled as a school in need of improvement three years ago, but teachers and staff now say it was a blessing in disguise. The school has worked its way off the improvement list set up by the federal No Child Left Behind law"
"Being put on school improvement was one of the best things that happened to our schools, Kathy Johannsen, the test, technology and school improvement coordinator at Alcester, said."
"They have come together as a staff with a common focus. The communication in that school is great and very different than it used to be, Galvin said. They're very, very focused on the change process and working together."
"Now, 88 percent of Alcester students are proficient in reading and 85 percent in math, scores far higher than the state proficiency rate of 71 percent in reading and 59 percent in math."
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