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October 14, 2004 Extra Credit
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October 14, 2004

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"She Just Has Those Kids So Jazzed About Reading"

During the past four weeks, officials from the U.S. Department of Education have traveled the country recognizing "American Stars of Teaching" with certificates to encourage and honor the teaching profession. These American Stars are teachers who, regardless of the challenges faced, are improving student achievement across the nation and therefore proving false the myth of "unteachable" students. The following are excerpts from an article in yesterday's Reno Gazette-Journal highlighting the Department's final recognition of an American Star of Teaching:

"It seemed like just another day when teacher Debbie Christian, a 15-year veteran, reported for work at Anderson Elementary School Wednesday. The day started with a staff meeting, as usual. Then it turned surreal. An unknown woman in the room turned out to be a ranking official with the U.S Department of Education. She popped up and announced that Christian had been picked as one of the nation's 100 American Stars of Teaching for her work with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Christian was also the only teacher named from Nevada."

"Christian was being singled out, but it was the school that really won the award, officials said. Christian was selected partly because of the school's success under the No Child Left Behind law, which requires all students, despite race, background or intelligence levels, to make adequate yearly progress, [they] said.

"Anderson Elementary, considered as an impoverished-area school by federal standards, made a quantum leap in the No Child Left Behind grading system — jumping from the needs-improvement list to the high-achieving list. 'You don't get these kind of results by having just one star teacher,' said Susan Sclafani, counselor to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education. 'This school prepares young people better than a lot of others across the nation.'

"Other teachers at Anderson said they were not jealous that Christian received the award although all shared the work. 'No, no,' Diane Best, a fourth-grade teacher, said. 'This is wonderful. She just has those kids so jazzed about reading.'"

"Christian was singled out for the award because of her students' scores on the State Criterion Reference Tests during the 2003-04 school year, Hall said. 'Her students outscored our school averages in every category, which in turn outscored the district averages in every category in third grade,' [he] said. 'All this (happened) in a school that is more than 50 percent English language learners with more than 90 percent who qualify for free and reduced lunch.'"

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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: 04/09/2008