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Old 08-14-2005, 06:39 AM   #1
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Is our schools failing?

Higher bar tripping schools
By Kavan Peterson, Stateline.org Staff Writer



More U.S. schools than ever are expected to be labeled as inadequate performers this year under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

More public schools are winding up on the trouble list not because their performance got worse, but because the bar has been raised in most states.

Public schools were required to increase the number of students passing state reading and math tests by as much as 10 percent to be labeled adequate in most states this year. Under the federal NCLB law, states must raise student performance every year until all students test proficient in reading and math by 2014.

Parents and teachers are being notified this month which schools in their state have been put on the "needs improvement" list. Already, nearly a dozen states -- Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming -- have reported an increase in the number of failing schools.

"As the No Child Left Behind time frame moves forward, states are going to have a harder time keeping pace with its expectations,” said Scott Young, an analyst for Communities for Quality Education, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group organizing grassroots opposition to the federal education law.

[B[In Louisiana, for example, the number of schools deemed "academically unacceptable" more than doubled from 78 in 2004 to 175 in 2005, despite overall gains in student achievement. The number of failing schools also more than doubled in New Mexico and Wyoming and tripled in Texas.[/B]

"Had the standards stayed the same we would have seen most schools move off the watch list," instead of twice as many move on, said Robin Jarvis of the Louisiana Department of Education.

States have complained since NCLB went into effect in 2002 that it is too costly and its goals are unrealistic. Several states have launched or are threatening legislative and legal action, including Colorado, Connecticut, Maine and the Republican stronghold of Utah.

Federal officials said it is premature to predict whether more schools will fall short of NCLB goals this year. Even if the number of schools identified as needing improvement increases, the latest national test data shows significant increases in student achievement, said Chad Colby, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores released in July showed that 9-year-olds are reading better, and the achievement gap in math and reading scores between races has narrowed significantly.

"What we know now is that states have increased their standards and student achievement has increased. If you have high standards for kids they just might live up to them,” Colby told Stateline.org.

Last year, more than 6,000 schools -- about 13 percent of those receiving federal funding – were rated "in need of improvement." That number is expected to increase when all states have reported final school ratings this month.

The biggest problem for schools has been getting too few students with disabilities or limited English proficiency to pass state reading and math tests.

NCLB, signed by President Bush in 2002, seeks to raise academic achievement. Public schools are judged on how well they educate students who statistically fare poorly, including African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, low-income students, special education students and students who are learning English as a second language.

If a single group of students falls below state standards, the school as a whole is tagged as inadequate that year. Schools receiving federal funds to help disadvantaged students that fail to improve for two or more years face sanctions. Click here for more details on NCLB sanctions.


Six states -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee -- have announced that more schools are meeting the higher targets this year than last: But improvement in these states is in part to easing testing requirements, experts said.

For example, Georgia, North Dakota and South Dakota took advantage of new flexibility in how states test students with disabilities.

The new flexibility, announced in May by U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, lets qualifying states give an alternative test to two percent of students with learning disabilities. Twenty-nine states so far have negotiated agreements with federal officials to apply the change to their 2005 school ratings.

Other states have asked federal officials permission to lower the bar they set for schools to meet proficiency goals. At least three states -- Florida, Missouri and Virginia -- have been granted permission to lower their 2005 benchmarks.

In Hawaii, state School Superintendent Pat Hamamoto announced August 8 that the state's assessment exam, which is considered to be among the toughest in the nation, would be overhauled to make it easier for students pass next year.

Hawaii's school ratings will not be released until August 18, but state officials said they expect a dramatic increase in the number schools failing reach state proficiency goals.

States face another major hurdle: the 2005-2006 school year is the first that all states must have in place NCLB's central requirement that all students be tested in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. The number of schools failing to meet state goals is expected to rise as more students are tested.
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Old 08-14-2005, 06:41 AM   #2
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Is our schools failing?
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Old 08-14-2005, 06:43 AM   #3
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Old 08-14-2005, 07:10 AM   #4
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There's been a ton about this stuff in the local newspapers. Some schools are making it, some are not.
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Old 08-14-2005, 07:47 AM   #5
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There is only so much teachers and schools can do to educate students. Most teachers I know work very hard but I can't say the same about a lot of students and parents.
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Old 08-14-2005, 07:59 AM   #6
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There is only so much teachers and schools can do to educate students. Most teachers I know work very hard but I can't say the same about a lot students and parents.
i don't disagree that our education system could use some serious tinkering, but i also agree with Maggie's point.

just last week, the secretary in our office was complaining to me that her 10 year old daughter, who's going into grade 6, doesn't know how to add or multiply. grade 6! she was grumbling that the school should be doing more to make sure her daughter learns math properly. all i could think of were those dreaded hours with my mother and the flashcards, over and over and over, until the equations were burned into my brain. education isn't just the teachers' responsibility--it should be everyone's.
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Old 08-14-2005, 08:54 AM   #7
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^ yes

it takes a village.

and i'd imagine much of the improvement in reading scores just might have something to do with the adventures of a teenaged wizard.

i'm actually serious.
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:13 AM   #8
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Originally posted by Irvine511
and i'd imagine much of the improvement in reading scores just might have something to do with the adventures of a teenaged wizard.

i'm actually serious.
Are you saying that Harry Potter has cast some kind of magical reading spells on our children against their will?

I knew all along that rogue wizard would be trouble.
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:17 AM   #9
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This is what I believe has happened.....Partially.....

Students do not have the time/support to accomplish what used to be done at home....

for example learning basic facts, and reading on a daily basis....

I find students are overwealmed with the amount of extra curricular activities, andmany are in daycare until 5-6 at night.

The last three years I have invested more of my classroom time helping students learn their facts (SOMETHING THAT USED TO BE DONE AT HOME) and providing independant reading time in school.

My school years have been better because of this.
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:23 AM   #10
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Originally posted by Irvine511
^ yes

it takes a village.

and i'd imagine much of the improvement in reading scores just might have something to do with the adventures of a teenaged wizard.

i'm actually serious.
You are correct in a sense.....

If you look at the materials chosen to teach children reading, they are excerpts of stories.....

I cannot for the life of me, recall enjoying reading in school.....because you cannot get into plot and character development.

The Chronicals of Narnia
The Black Cauldron
Taran Wanderer
The High King
The Fortune-Tellers

These stories I can remember......




My wife runs the most popular club in her school (There is a waiting list to get in)....a reading club. Why is it popular, becasue they are reading books...real books, complete books...for example...

The Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter...ect...

You want to compete with TV? Get kids into books and stories that can compete with them.
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:23 AM   #11
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Originally posted by XHendrix24


Are you saying that Harry Potter has cast some kind of magical reading spells on our children against their will?

I knew all along that rogue wizard would be trouble.


it's really Satan's secret plan.

he tempts children to read with stories of a seemingly innocent but really sinister wizard with questionable taste in eyeware. so they become better readers ... better readers of ungodly works!!!!!!!

Satan is everywhere.

you have been warned.

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Old 08-14-2005, 09:25 AM   #12
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Originally posted by Dreadsox


You are correct in a sense.....

If you look at the materials chosen to teach children reading, they are excerpts of stories.....

I cannot for the life of me, recall enjoying reading in school.....because you cannot get into plot and character development.

The Chronicals of Narnia
The Black Cauldron
Taran Wanderer
The High King
The Fortune-Tellers

These stories I can remember......




My wife runs the most popular club in her school (There is a waiting list to get in)....a reading club. Why is it popular, becasue they are reading books...real books, complete books...for example...

The Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter...ect...

You want to compete with TV? Get kids into books and stories that can compete with them.


very cool.

i loved those books as well -- i was obsessed with the Lloyd Alexander books in 5th grade.

and you're exatcly right as for the reason why -- they were every inch as thrilling as Star Wars.
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Old 08-14-2005, 09:53 AM   #13
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Personally, one of the things I've noticed is that as far as reading goes, I sometimes feel like we're underestimated. I don't only want to read YA fiction written for my specific age group...it's like we can't handle literature or something, really frustrating. I think if you challenge kids and stop talking down to them, we'll do alright for the most part.

You know what's really interesting though...we just had another high school built in my area, and it was the crowning achievement, a million-billion dollars to build, etc...but it's already been blacklisted because so many kids are coming from other shitty school systems and (not to be rude) dragging it down. I just don't understand the logic- the school is doing poorly, so they cut the funding. Do they think the school's just not trying hard enough?
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Old 08-14-2005, 10:35 AM   #14
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When I went to elementary school in the Communist system, we were schooled from 8-12 or 2-6. Mainly the shifts existed so a school could accomodate twice the number of students. That way kids had most of the day to complete their homework (which I had more in 2nd grade than in high school here), as well as play and do whatever else they wanted to.

When I came to Canada in 6th grade, I spoke 3 languages fluently, my math level was at 10th grade and I scored a 139 on the IQ test with limited English.

My point is that no child needs to sit in a classroom from 9-3 and then in daycare for another 3 hours. The problem is that here, parents are working such long hours and daycare is so expensive that we're sticking children in school as if though it's a 9-5 job. That's just ridiculous, any child psychologist will tell you what a short attention span kids have and yet we expect them to be mini-adults.
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Old 08-14-2005, 11:19 AM   #15
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Well, as I see it, both school and the workplace have two things in common: a shitload of wasted time.

And the funny thing is? I don't exactly attribute my intellect to school at all. All of the most valuable things I've learned in life, I've taught myself. I even taught myself how to read (or, should I say, the television taught me to read...lol). School just helped me figure out which directions were important, since we tend to have an overabundance of options in society.

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