Under No Child Left Behind, students are assessed in both reading/language arts and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school and schools are held accountable for students academic achievement. To further strengthen high schools, President Bush has proposed a new $1.5 billion High School Initiative that would provide funding for assessments in two additional high school grades as well as intervention for students at greatest risk of not meeting state standards and not completing high school. The following are excerpts from an article in todays Tennessean highlighting efforts in Tennessee to strengthen high schools so that no student is left behind:
"At Tennessee's first-ever High School Summit, which wraps up today, teams of educators from 63 high schools statewide are being encouraged to alter the way they do business in an effort to increase attendance, reduce the dropout rate and help students achieve at much higher levels. ... It's very important for the high schools in our state to take a look at what they're doing and then change what they're doing to make kids successful, said John Scott, assistant commissioner for teaching and learning for the state Department of Education. This is necessary. We need to have every student graduating high school college - and work-ready.
"Yesterday's sessions got under way with a sort of how to guide. Mel Riddile, executive principal at Stuart High in Fairfax County, Va., shared how he was able to transform a school riddled with gang activity, high poverty, high mobility and non-English-speaking students into one of the nation's best — without changing its demographics or adding a bunch of new teachers. Our job is extremely difficult, he said. We're being asked to do more, in some cases, with less. He started by focusing on attendance and reading skills. Then he raised expectations, lengthened the school day and required struggling students to stay after school and get help. The only hope that our kids have is an education, he said. We can always do better."
"Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, all schools have to make progress each year and make sure no group — such as special education or low-income students — is failing to keep pace. All high schools are judged on students' reading and math skills as well as graduation rates.
"The two-day meeting was designed to provide districts with details about President Bush's push to improve high schools, introduce some systems to nationally recognized school-reform models, and showcase innovative programs in different parts of the state. There's a high school reform movement spreading across the country, Scott said. We felt that if we didn't get something out this summer, we'd be a year behind."
"Gary Nixon, executive director of the state board, said true reform takes time, and as high schools raise expectations they've got to provide extra help for students who are lagging behind. You've got to believe they can do it ... every child can be successful, Nixon said. There's no silver bullet. It takes a lot of work."
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