The following are excerpts from The Oregonian's recent editorial, "Signs that NCLB is working:"
"Oregon schools once fell into three vague categories: the bad schools, the fine schools and the great schools where most of the wealthier kids seemed to go. Asking for specifics about student achievement was like yelling down an empty hallway, hearing your questions echo without learning anything new.
"Those days are over. Today, people know more about their K-12 public schools than they ever have, thanks to the strict reporting requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. They can get a detailed snapshot of their local school and learn whether the odds of getting a good education are getting better or worse."
"Almost two-thirds of about 1,190 Oregon schools met all of the state and federal targets for student achievement and progress in 2003-04. About 370 schools did not; more than 200 of those schools missed their targets at least two years running, as The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond reported last week. Intriguingly, Oregon's higher-poverty Title I schools reportedly outperformed the state's lower-poverty, non-Title I schools."
"About one-third of the schools on Oregon's watch list got dinged simply for failing to test enough students. Weighing participation rates so heavily may seem harsh, but it's important that schools can't game the system by 'forgetting' to test their lowest-performing students. The other 260 schools had more serious academic troubles -- anywhere from one subgroup of students barely missing the targets, to across-the-board belly flops.
"Critics of the law, including some educators and parents, say schools can't be held responsible for the poor performance of disadvantaged children. They say it's ludicrous for great schools to get bad publicity just because one or two small subgroups of students. They say the law makes it impossible for any school to succeed. They are wrong."
"More than 760 schools in Oregon met the state and federal education standards. Hundreds of those schools are full of low-income kids of every background and circumstance, yet those school communities made it happen. Now it's up to Oregon to replicate that success in every school."
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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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