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NCLB Outrages

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: Failing the grade

Ohanian Comment: The last line of the story nails the purpose of all this: In Grand Forks, the next round of tests will be given in October and November. Under NCLB, schools that repeatedly fail to make AYP can be subject to sanctions, up to loss of local control of the schools.

I fear a byproduct will be public animosity towards "those" students who are spoiling the record, in this case students with disabilities.

By Paulette Tobin

Grand Forks Central High School, Grand Forks Schroeder Middle School and Emerado Elementary School were among the 43 North Dakota schools that did not meet a federal Adequate Yearly Progress standard, according to report released Wednesday by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

The three schools had composite scores good enough to make AYP, a standard set by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

However, each of the schools had subgroups of students that didn't do well enough on annual tests. Those subgroup scores are enough to put schools on the list of those that didn't make AYP.

"So Schroeder and Central didn't make AYP in that one subgroup and that was students with disabilities," said Jody Thompson, assistant superintendent for elementary education and Title 1 director for Grand Forks Public Schools.

Emerado also passed on composite scores, according to the report online at the DPI Web site. However, it did not meet goals for economically disadvantaged students and for students with disabilities.

Educators and others have questioned several of the provisions of No Child Left Behind and the testing of students with disabilities has been one of the most controversial parts of the law.

"I think from our perspective students with disabilities are already being served on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)," Thompson said. "We already are making all kinds of accommodations for these students. Is it fair they are being judged the same as their peers are? Many people would say no."

Beginning this fall, DPI will offer more flexibility in testing students with disabilities. Before, schools were allowed to give up to 1 percent of their students with IEPs an alternate test. This fall, that number will increase to 3 percent, Thompson said.

Adequate Yearly Progress reports are based on testing grades 4, 8 and 11 in reading and math. Results are reported for the overall student population and for nine subgroup populations. If a school has a subgroup that is too small for a statistical standard, multiple year averaging is used to get a number.

The list of 43 schools that did not make AYP included elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, so some school districts - like Grand Forks and Turtle Mountain - were on the list more than once.

The DPI's latest report indicated 43 out of 419 schools were on the list, compared with 44 out of 407 schools in the 2003-2004 report. The report said the variance in the number of schools was the result of school reorganization.

The report also included information on school attendance, graduation rates and percentage of the enrollment at each school that was tested. Wayne Sanstead, state superintendent of schools, said he was encouraged by the numbers.

"The data show signs of definite progress and areas where we can make further improvements," Sanstead said in a news release. "What matters is that we take this data to heart to build on our strengths and target our deficiencies."

In Grand Forks, the next round of tests will be given in October and November. Under NCLB, schools that repeatedly fail to make AYP can be subject to sanctions, up to loss of local control of the schools.

Tobin reports on education, teen news and special events. Reach her at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or ptobin@gfherald.com.

— Paulette Tobin
Grand Forks Herald


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