Local News

'No Child Left Behind' results can be misleading

Posted August 27, 2008
Updated August 28, 2008

— Fewer than half of North Carolina schools are meeting No Child Left Behind standards, but the label doesn't mean schools are necessarily failing.

At Heritage Middle School in Wake Forest, for example, 85 percent of students are where they should be in math, and the school exceeded its federal testing goal last year.

Still, it didn't pass No Child Left Behind standards because the No Child Left Behind is not based on overall results.

Heritage principal Dhedra Cross says the school isn't failing, but fears it's labeled to leave that impression.

"Everything we do is formulaic, and I don't think the public understands the formulas," Cross said.

No Child Left Behind is a federal law passed in 2001 and aimed to improve the performance of public schools and to increase accountability at the school, district and state levels.

It divides schools into categories based on race, income, English-speaking abilities and other factors. All groups have to perform at a certain level or schools can be penalized.

A school that receives federal funding and does not meet adequate yearly progress expectations in the same subject for two consecutive years must offer students the option of moving to a school that does.

For the 2007-2008 school year, less than a quarter of the schools in the Wake County Public School System met those standards, according to preliminary results released last month. Complete results will be available in November.

Out of those schools, 10 were required to offer students the option to transfer.

District leaders say higher achievement standards caused more schools to fall behind.

"The fact is, we have to keep evaluating our programs and make sure we reach every child," Wake County Board of Education Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

Although there are things she would change, Gill says No Child Left Behind has its positives.

"The NCLB legislation gives us that push we need," she said.

With the confusion and controversy, however, even political supporters have said No Child Left Behind could change from its current format.

"I rewrote the bill for reauthorization. Sen. (Ted) Kennedy chose not to take it up this year," U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said. "It was significantly different. I believe in accountability. North Carolina has a rich history of accountability in education."

This year, for middle school, 77 percent of students in each group had to pass. The more diverse a school is, the more groups there are to test.

"It's just one way to measure the school, but it's not the end-all, be-all of how to judge your school," said parent Patty Dutcher, whose children are enrolled at Zebulon Elementary School.

Despite huge gains, Zebulon Elementary did not pass No Child Left Behind.

Dhedra Cross likes the data, she says, "to help us keep our attention on groups that it would, perhaps, be easy to overlook."

But she hopes people understand the bigger picture beyond pass versus fail as it stands under No Child Left Behind.


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  • rc4nc Aug 29, 2008

    Yes, I agree with the other posters who state "It all begins at home". As a parent of two, it didn't take me long to grasp that school officials didn't need or want my input, concerning my childrens' education. As long as school officials view parents as adversaries instead of partners, don't expect any improvements in public education. Instead of raising taxes on parents and sending the money to the school system, cut taxes to the point that one parent can stay home with the children.

  • georgeorwell1 Aug 29, 2008

    ncreader, sorry, I was poorly educated in NC.

  • NC Reader Aug 28, 2008

    "Unfortunately, the Wake County public School System has proven that the kids who are graduating have no concept of Math, many have a problem with comprehension."

    So you are saying that "the kids who are graduating" (i.e. all graduates) "have no concept of Math" (i.e. don't have any idea what it is). My children in public school all are excellent math students and are getting a fine education. I don't expect them to get sudden amnesia before they graduate. Your statement is completely unreasonable.

  • rc4nc Aug 28, 2008

    Every comment I've heard from elected officials has been that the "real" issue with NCLB is that it "is not being properly funded" by the federal government. Well folks you know exactly what that means. Obama and company will find some other folks to tax so that NCLB will get properly funded. Remember he's already promised to raise taxes on the rich (those making over 250,000/yr) to pay for the "free" health care.

  • yruatwit Aug 28, 2008

    Oh yes............................Ms. Cross' logic makes perfect sense, "We did not totally lose, we just lost enough that we came in last." This make perfect "formulaic" sense.

  • clipsandmore Aug 28, 2008

    NCLB is a real joke because everyone in the school system puts their own spin on it. I know of a Middle School in WCPSS that the principal has instituted a "no zero" policy in an effort to leave no child behind. What a joke!! If a child doesn't complete their work, the teachers have been instructed to give them a 60. This also hasn't been told to the parents via formal communication. Who is this actually helping? Certainly not the student. Does the Wake Co. School Board even care that a principal has the power to change a grading system? The community at large only needs one guess as to why a principal would make such a decision because the only person he's helping is himself to look better!

  • TheAdmiral Aug 28, 2008

    "TheAdmiral - "Why not? You would rather have kids stupid and poor?"

    Bifurcation fallacy. But nice try."

    In order for it to be a fallacy, there can not be substantial evidence that supports the position.

    Unfortunately, the Wake County public School System has proven that the kids who are graduating have no concept of Math, many have a problem with comprehension.

    The school system has also proven that they have a hard time graduating students.

    So, therefore, they are graduating them dumb and stupid; or they are not graduating at all, which means the statement is not a fallacy, but in fact, true.

    Nice try.

  • veyor Aug 28, 2008

    I know of two examples that highlight the ridiculousness of NCLB. Both are kindergarten classes. In one, there is one white girl, and in another, one white boy. The majority of the class in both cases in Hispanic, many of whom speak in broken English. Contrast this to a class filled with children of highly educated, well to do parents, with all the advantages that come with it. The teacher with her hands full of trying to first of all communicate with the Hispanic children is the one that needs a bonus.

  • MamaBearNC Aug 28, 2008

    Can someone please help me and direct me to where the actual breakdown is of what target goals were not met. Not just 18/20 goals me...but what ones????? I can't find it on the WCPSS site. The results are too vague with no explanation on their site.

  • Justabum Aug 28, 2008

    NE Raleigh and NC Reader have nailed it.