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NCLB Outrages

City schools to get extra attention to improve test scores

No matter what you call it,
it's super-charged test prep, not
education.


by Thomas Ott
Plain Dealer Reporter
The Cleveland school district will assign 10 to
12 poorly performing elementary schools to the
care of an assistant superintendent and pour in
tutoring and other special assistance.

If the extra attention doesn't improve test
scores, the schools could close, Chief Academic
Officer Eric Gordon said.

The district is expected to announce next month
which schools will be in the targeted group.

The plan is part of Cleveland's strategy for
boosting achievement and climbing out of
"academic watch," the equivalent of a D on the
state report card. Officials were left reeling
last month when new report cards showed the
district had slipped a notch from "continuous
improvement," a milestone celebrated just a
year earlier.

Aides to Chief Executive Officer Eugene Sanders
laid out the recovery measures for the school
board Tuesday. Other steps include formation of
leadership teams in all schools, heavy use of
instructional material prescribed by district
headquarters and involving parents and the
community.

Sanders said in an interview that the district
has not finished picking the schools that will
receive special attention. That announcement
will come in early October after parents are
notified, he said.

The district will add high schools to the list
in the 2009-10 school year, Sanders said. But
first, he said, officials will devise a "well-
thought-out plan."

Sanders was not as blunt as Gordon in
discussing what could happen to the struggling
schools if they don't improve.

"We are clearly in a position where we have to
show dramatic and significant improvement," he
said.

Sanders would say only that the schools to be
singled out are likely in "academic emergency"
or "academic watch," designations that apply to
three-quarters of the district.

In addition to the state ranking, officials
will consider attendance and other criteria, he
said.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act,
states can order radical action against schools
that fail for three straight years to meet
standards for "adequate yearly progress."
Districts can also take steps on their own.

According to the district's latest report card,
17 schools have failed to meet the standards
for at least three years. One East Side
elementary school, Albert B. Hart, has been in
violation since the federal law took effect
seven years ago.

Singling out the low-performing schools for
special scrutiny is not new for the system.
Former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett took a similar
tack with "CEO schools," patterned after the
"Chancellor's District" she headed in New York
City.

In 1997, then-Superintendent Richard Boyd
reassigned teachers at two Cleveland schools
and made those who stayed re-apply for their
jobs.

— Thomas Ott
Plain Dealer
2008-09-10


INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES


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