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June 16, 2005 Extra Credit
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June 16, 2005

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June 15
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“An Eye on ‘Closing the Gap’”

The following are excerpts from a recent op–ed in the Salt Lake Tribune written by the superintendent of Granite School District in Utah highlighting how schools in the district are closing the achievement gap under No Child Left Behind:

“I applaud the interest that West Valley parents have in their children’s academic performance in literacy and mathematics. We acknowledge that there are demographic challenges in West Valley, such as non–English speakers, immigrant children with no previous formal education, poverty and high crime rates.

“We have been focusing our expertise on applying proven interventions to mitigate these challenges and have been making measurable progress. Under the federal No Child Left Behind AYP report card, a school is evaluated by a total of 40 different scores. If one of the 40 scores falls below the standard, then the school is designated as a ‘no’ for adequate yearly progress or ‘needs to improve.’

The bottom line: Students in West Valley schools have improved to the point that their schools received only 13 academic progress “no’s” out of an overall 1,040 possible scores. Our minority students are closing the academic gap between themselves and non–minority students. We’re helping them do it in West Valley City and across the district in a variety of ways:

  • Each elementary school has one or more reading specialists working with first–graders not yet reading at grade level.
  • Four Reading First schools (one in WVC) receive federal funds to help all K–3 students become proficient readers through scientifically–based approaches and assessments.
  • The best way to close the education gap is to narrow it early. We have placed at least one preschool classroom in every Title I elementary school, increased sessions from 143 to 222 this year, and we target kindergarten readiness among our children of poverty.
  • More than 1,100 Granite District teachers have received their English as a Second Language endorsements.
  • Schools have established literacy programs for parents. Parents who read are better resources for children learning to read.
  • ‘After school’ programs provide tutoring in math and reading at the elementary level, and secondary students have ‘credit recovery’ options to makeup courses necessary for high school graduation.

“The list goes on. We in the Granite School District promise parents of students in West Valley and throughout the district that we will do all in our power to improve the educational performance of all our students, with an eye on ‘closing the gap.’”

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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: 08/27/2007