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NCLB Outrages

Supe Says NCLB Dooms Schools

Calistoga Elementary School recently joined a club that has a growing membership: schools facing so-called failure under the president's No Child Left Behind Act.

"Calistoga Elementary School, which as a whole, met growth targets, is doomed to failure because one group of students aren't proficient in English," Calistoga Joint-Unified District Superintendent Jeffrey Johnson said Monday. "If we didn't meet this year's goal, we're almost certain not going to meet next year's. We're being set up to fail."

Last year's goal was to have 10 percent of the school's students proficient in English, according to Johnson. Next year's mandate is that 20 percent reach proficiency. The percentage of students who must be rated proficient in math and English will rise sharply starting in the 2007-08 school year, to 50 percent, making it even more difficult for schools to comply with the largely unfunded law.

"Calistoga Elementary has a student body that is 47 percent English learners who don't have the required proficiency," Johnson said. "While many of our students are proficient, we're being penalized for the ones who aren't."

No Child Left Behind requires states to implement accountability systems for public schools and students. The systems must be based on challenging state standards in reading and mathematics, annual testing for all students in grades 3-8, and annual statewide progress objectives that push all groups of students to reach proficiency within 12 years.

School districts and schools that do not meet adequate yearly progress toward statewide proficiency goals are subject to corrective action measures aimed at getting them back on course to meet state standards.

Although Calistoga Joint-Unified School District is anticipating an application that could mean its high school will be named a California distinguished school, it's scrambling to implement a number of remedial programs that will hopefully improve its elementary school's lot.

"We are not alone in this," Johnson said. "There are thousands of schools in districts across the country facing the same doomed scenario."/John Waters Jr.

Napa News


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