The following are excerpts from an op-ed in todays The Forum (ND) by North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Wayne G. Sanstead:
"Last week, my office reported 14 school districts that were unable to meet state established proficiency targets for two consecutive years. Those school districts have been identified as in need of improvement. School districts receiving this designation are not sanctioned under the No Child Left Behind Act; rather, school districts receiving this designation qualify for extra help, which can include both additional federal funding and state technical assistance. This designation will ensure the school districts are provided with additional resources to make improvements in needed areas."
"This law attempts to answer how we are going to change business as usual. If our school districts only see NCLB as a collection of mandates in order to receive their share of just about $100 million North Dakota receives annually, they clearly will be less productive and less prone to make the necessary changes to help our students build this state.
"NCLB is a road map for school improvement. North Dakota school districts have always been about school improvement - it's what good schools do. NCLB begins with clear standards. You assess the standards effectively; you look at how well the students are doing against those standards; you use the data from those assessments to guide decisions about the curriculum, instructional strategies, materials and professional development. It's about how good administrators manage."
"The notification [that a school is identified as in need of improvement] is the first step. The second step requires the school to think about how to improve, which is what good schools do anyway in the school improvement process. Schools have the opportunity to be creative with their resources in light of the data to figure out what students need and in what way. Schools need to think about the data in a more robust way - with the help of data systems research.
"The NCLB Act is a long-term solution/process, not a short-term fix. North Dakota has until 2014 to show the long-term effects of knowing where each child is in a good effective education. No Child Left Behind has served its purpose well by forcing us to confront these serious issues challenging the status quo. We must take the challenge."
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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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