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November 09, 2004 Extra Credit
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November 9, 2004

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"No Excuses, Just Do It."

The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Honolulu Advertiser highlighting the improvements No Child Left Behind is bringing to Hawaii's schools:

"Principal Joseph Theroux posts weekly progress reports for his Keaukaha Elementary School on an oversized public bulletin board at the local Keaukaha Market. At times he goes over the data in the postings with curious community members who gather there for their morning coffee, and fields questions about the statistics from area residents who study the charts.

"It's all part of the outspoken Theroux's campaign to remind parents, neighbors and anyone else who will listen about all that is good and working at Keaukaha Elementary, smack in the Hawaiian homesteads next to Hilo airport on the Big Island. Now that Keaukaha has achieved coveted ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ for the first time under the federal No Child Left Behind guidelines, Theroux plans to step up the tempo with a mini-recruitment effort at community meetings in Keaukaha."

"Like Keaukaha, the entire school system has been buoyed by a string of good news, from higher test scores, more schools meeting stringent state standards and recognition for outstanding schools and educators, including Hawai'i's first national principal of the year. As a result, a new optimism has begun to take root in a school system long criticized as under-performing."

"At Kihei Elementary on Maui, where students have met the standards two years in a row, principal Alvin Shima said, ‘We had this kind of gray cloud over us for a number of years being in this failing schools category and now things are progressing in the right direction. We're happy and proud about what we're doing.’

"For all the criticism that greeted the federal No Child Left Behind Act, educators say it — more than anything — has forced struggling schools to take a hard look at their programs and find ways to boost student achievement."

"Even schools that have been unable to meet all the NCLB criteria are encouraged that they have clear targets and have developed strategies to hit them. As schools see gains, they are inspired to keep the momentum going, according to Campbell High principal Gail Awakuni, who recently won a prestigious national principal of the year award. ‘I think if they see the results of their work, they will tell you that they don't mind working harder and smarter to be more efficient,’ she said."

"Schools have also been energized by the focus the federal and state governments, and even the media, have put on improving education. ‘I think it's a collective effort of everybody realizing that change is here and we all need to work together for the common good of improving education,’ she said. ‘I think it's empowering all of us to do what we need to get the job done. No excuses, just do it.’"

The complete text of this article is available online.

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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: 11/09/2004