The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Press-Enterprise (CA) highlighting how two Southern California schools help their low-income students excel in more ways than one.
Some of Fremont's 1,148 students wear shoes that dont fit. Others are homeless, have a parent in jail or are being raised by a grandparent. More than 80 percent meet low-income requirements for free or reduced-price lunches. About one-third of the students are learning English.
Nearly 20 miles away in Fontana, half of Chaparral Elementary Schools 600 students are learning English. Almost 70 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. And 40 percent are English-language learners. Yet test scores have risen steadily since the campus opened four years ago.
Honestly, Im not surprised by our success, said Chaparral Principal Rhonda Morgan, who credits her schools improvement to dedicated teachers and caring parents. I knew we'd achieve it, and Im a true believer in people rising to the occasion and meeting the challenge head-on.
Success comes at a good time for the two Inland schools, which are under mounting state and federal pressure to meet goals set by President Bushs No Child Left Behind Act. Under the ambitious -- and some say unrealistic -- plan, every student is to be proficient in math and reading by 2014.
The law took effect during the 2002-03 school year, requiring all public school students -- including those who are learning English and come from low-income families -- to meet annual test-score benchmarks. Schools that chronically fail to meet those benchmarks could be shut down .
The time for excuses has passed, Bush said during a recent radio address. Our reforms insist on high standards because we know every child can learn.
Fremonts educators say the expectations outlined in No Child Left Behind have spurred them to action. Teachers are dedicating more meeting time to sharing techniques and strategies. Many are getting better at identifying struggling students and refuse to display student work that has misspellings or math errors.
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