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NCLB Outrages

New standards set for class of 2011 No Child Left Behind Act leads to tougher curriculum for incoming Rock Falls H.S. freshmen

Ohanian Comment: More geometry concepts for students with special needs reminds me of one of the most poignant, maddening things I ever read about schools and schoolings. In The Broken Cord Michael Dorris explained laying out years of report cards his son adopted son Adam, born with fetal alcohol syndrome and then in 8th grade, had received. Each proclaimed, "understands basic geometric concepts." But Adam couldn't make change from a dollar and did not, in fact, understand basic money concepts, could not tell time, and so on. But every year his curriculum included "basic geometric concepts."

Now does the curriculum of children with special needs--and the curriculum of all children--need to line up with the corporate-politico pronouncements of distant lawmakers or should maybe teacher judgment, reached with the advice and consent of parents, prevail?

by Joseph Bustos

ROCK FALLS - Incoming high school freshmen will face a more challenging curriculum, thanks to changes approved Wednesday by the school board.

Rock Falls High will eliminate pre-algebra and add a reading course to the general curriculum, and will eliminate pre-algebra and add basics of geometry to the special education curriculum.

The changes are intended to help the school when it comes to meeting the requirements of the federal "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Pre-algebra was dropped because it repeats concepts taught in Algebra 1, members of the curriculum committee said, and adding geometry basics to the special ed program helps meet state requirements for more geometry in the curriculum, Principal Ron McCord said.

The reading class is for incoming students who need help catching up to their grade level, McCord said.

Also Wednesday, Superintendent Jane Eichman told the board she still has no idea when Prairie State Achievement Exam results will be available from the state. Usually, the scores are in by Oct. 31.

The exam, given to juniors, helps determine if high schools are making adequate yearly progress on their "No Child Left Behind" goals.

Without the test results, school officials don't know if the techniques and strategies used to help students succeed were effective.

For example, reading specialist Brenda Fiorini went into all the junior classrooms last year to teach students reading strategies and test-taking techniques, said Lori Getz, English department chairwoman.

"Hopefully it was successful, but until we have all the data in our hands, we won't know how much impact it had," Getz said.

The delay was caused by a new statewide student identification system, by problems with the testing company, which scored some tests incorrectly, and because the volume of students tested increased. This year, third- through eighth-graders were tested; before, only third-, fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders
were tested.

— Joseph Bustos<
Sauk Valley News


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