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NCLB Outrages

State Schools Chief Faults No Child

Interim state Schools Supt. Randy Dunn said Wednesday the federal No Child Left Behind law is "scapegoating" special education and limited English students and he feels a "moral imperative" to address it.

In 2004, 235 school districts failed to meet federal standards solely because of the scores of special needs and limited English students, state data released Wednesday showed.

"We're seeing a scapegoating effect on these kids," Dunn said. "I keep coming back to the moral injustice of this, especially when these children are making progress."

The No Child Left Behind law expects limited English and special needs students to meet the same testing standards as general education students, a proposition Dunn calls unfair. He wants the feds to let states track academic progress of these two groups instead of looking solely at state test performance. He also wants to offer more test accommodations for special needs kids.

Also Wednesday, 79 Chicago public schools that posted major gains on both local and state tests were honored as "rising stars" by Chicago Public Schools officials.

Woodlawn Community Academy led the way with double-digit gains. The school redoubled its commitment to a scripted reading program called Direct Instruction, and it paid off. Even the kindergartners at the high-poverty school are reading.

This year, 71 elementary schools were cited, up from 48 in 2003. Eight high schools were recognized, the same as in 2003. In 2003, these schools received $5,000 each. CPS is still raising money for the awards this year.

— Kate N. Grossman
Chicago Sun-Times


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