Local News

Durham School Officials Unhappy With 'No Child Left Behind' Report Card

Posted July 28, 2005

— The latest results for the federal "No Child Left Behind" law are proof that making the grade is not easy for some local school systems.

Over the last seven years, student achievement has increased in Durham Public Schools. But when it comes to the federal "No Child Left Behind" law, it appears the school system may be slipping.

"We were not extremely happy about our results," said Associate Superintendent Dr. Carl Harris.

This year, only 10 of Durham's 43 public schools, 23 percent, met the federal standards known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) -- down from 22 schools in 2004.

Compared to Durham County, 62 percent of schools in Wake County met their goals; 58 percent in Cumberland County; and 54 percent in Orange County.

Harris, though, said he is not discouraged. He believes AYPs are not a clear indicator of how well the school system is doing.

In AYPs, schools are divided into subgroups. If one subgroup fails in one area, the whole school fails.

Administrators are now planning ways to get each school back on track.

"So, we'll go back and review our strategy, implement additional strategy and hope for better results next year," Harris said.

At the nonprofit Durham Public Education Network, director Kay James worries the 17 percent teacher attrition rate -- one of the worst in the state -- is now making a mark on student success.

"Certainly teacher turnover, teacher recruitment and retention play a big factor," James said.

Parent and PTA council member Lisa Kane thinks factors outside the classroom are also hurting the learning process. She said she sometimes questions the school board's effectiveness.

Despite concerns though, most people are optimistic. They say with teachers, parents and the community working together, the school system will not fail.

School administrators plan to present their "No Child Left Behind" school improvement plans to the school board in the next month or two.

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