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[Susan notes: Thank you to this principal for speaking up.]

Published in Montgomery Advertiser

To the editor

One of the most popular questions facing educators and lawmakers is whether the No Child Left Behind law should be overhauled or scrapped. The primary aim of NCLB is to raise student performance and it requires states to give annual reading and mathematics tests to students in third through eighth grade and 10th grade.

Under the law, the number of students who pass state tests must steadily increase and all students must pass the tests by 2014. Schools are penalized if they miss the testing proficiency rate two consecutive years, and subgroups of minorities, low-income and disabled children also must meet the benchmarks. Penalties range from allowing students to transfer to higher performing schools to providing extra tutoring and the ultimate of facing state takeover.

No Child Left Behind has created a crisis in public schools. Some individuals feel that NCLB is damaging our students and our schools. They feel that it is an effort to privatize public education. Allowing pupils to transfer from a so-called low performing school to a high performing school does not help the students who have performed poorly on standardized tests. Their test scores will be mixed with the high achievers.

There is currently little evidence that high-stakes tests, standardized assessment by itself, actually improves education. But there is a political side to NCLB.

Gerald Shirley, Principal, School of Discovery, Selma

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