Local News

For No Child Left Behind, Success Is In Numbers

Posted August 20, 2003

— All week long, Wake County Schools have been celebrating the fact that 91 percent of students are performing at or above grade level.

No Child Left Behind

requires all students to be at grade level by 2013. It does not sound like there should be a problem, but it is all in how one calculates the numbers.

Root Elementary is getting A's and B's for students performing at or above grade level. In fact, all of Wake County public schools get an A for the same category.

But Root Elementary and 27 other elementary schools in Wake County do not make the grade when it comes to another standard. Principal Chip Mack said it is a federal standard called "No Child Left Behind."

"We did not meet the No Child Left Behind by one subgroup," Mack said.

No Child Left Behind divides children into subgroups based on race or level of English profiency. If one group doesn't pass the test, then the whole school fails. But that leaves some educators saying: 'Wait a minute; grading a school is not so black and white.'"

"So it is not saying you have one group performing here, and here are their goals, and you have another group performing here, and here are their goals," said Chuck Dulaney of the Wake County Schools' Evaluation and Research department. "No Child Left Behind says there is one target across the board."

If some schools like Root do not pass for a second year in a row, sanctions set in, such as allowing kids to transfer. If a school does not pass for five years in a row, the staff can be replaced.

Root Elementary doesn't receive the federal money that would put it in danger of facing those sanctions. But many of Wake's elementary schools do receive federal money tied to No Child Left Behind, and that could mean changes for the 2004-2005 school year.

Mack said he is just focused on the short term.

"It gives us good information and strategies to use," Mack said.

State Superintendent Michael Ward has his own goals for schools like Root. He wants to change the legislation.

"Unless Congress and the administration address this and resolve some of the flaws, what is otherwise good legislation will collapse under its own negative weight," Ward said.

Ward called this No Child Left Behind version 1.0. He said any program gets tweaked.

In Wake County, all but one high school and all but one middle school did not meet the requirement. But it is the elementary schools that would face the penalties because they receive federal money tied to No Child Left Behind.

Statewide, the forecast is not much different. Just fewer than half of all schools met the federal target.


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