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October 01, 2004 Extra Credit
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October 1, 2004

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Focusing The Attention Of Educators

The following excerpts are from an editorial in today’s Bellingham Country Gazette (MA) on the vital role testing plays in helping all students achieve at high levels:

"State officials released the annual flood of MCAS scores last week, and most local educators found good news. Scores on the state’s standardized tests are steadily edging up. The state’s decade-long process of setting uniform standards and testing against them seems to be working as intended.

"It’s also good to see how the MCAS tests are being used to focus the attention of educators. Where English scores have lagged, we’ve seen educators institute district-wide programs to improve reading and writing skills. Where the results showed deficiencies in math, we've seen districts double the amount of classroom time spent on that subject."

"The focus has now shifted from simply passing the test to moving students into the ‘advanced’ and ‘proficient’ scores. … Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, improvement in MCAS scores averaged across a school or grade isn’t enough. That law requires that every subgroup - including special education students, minorities, students from poor families and students with limited English - make steady progress toward proficiency. Educators are now giving those groups the kind of sustained focus needed to close the achievement gap that plagues even the best school systems.

"Another positive trend we’ve noticed is that, along with higher scores, we’ve seen a steady reduction in complaints from local educators about the MCAS tests. Like all tools, the tests work best when they are put to good use. Instead of whining about the MCAS tests, MetroWest educators are using them, and that's paying off."

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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: 04/03/2008