The following are excerpts from an article in yesterdays The Ascension Citizen (LA) highlighting the improvements made by a Louisiana school district. The districts director of school improvement credits No Child Left Behinds focus on student subgroups and parental involvement for the districts improvements:
"The Ascension public school system posted a [district performance evaluation] score of 98.0 from the state Department of Education for the 2003-04 school year. The score reflected an improvement of 1.4 points from the 2002-03 year and by 5.3 points the previous year. The schools will target the individual needs of students to bolster the scores. Teachers will look at rosters and determine who's strong in one area and weak in another, Pujol said. It means different things for different kids - it's not 'one size fits all'. Some students will need work on vocabulary development, while others require help in learning English or math.
"One of the benefits of 'No Child Left Behind' is that it has forced us to take a closer look at each different group of kids instead of just the overall data, Pujol said. Another key to improvement is continuous parental involvement, which includes reading to children, impressing the importance of academic excellence and providing a time and structure to complete homework assignments. In poorer areas, schools often offer books, games and even computer software with a laptop to send home for parents to work with the children. Schools also are offering tutoring - much of it free of charge — to bring struggling students up to speed.
"Students in today's school systems must be moved on to the next level, but all youngsters face a tougher curriculum than those in previous generations, Pujol said. Today, we're asking teachers in our society to educate all students the way we once taught the top 20 percent, she said. To get a job, everyone needs those high-level skills.
"The parish also improved on test scores for students traditionally underserved, including the poor and those who do not speak English, Pujol said."
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