The Park Record editorial, December 1-3, 2010Local schools offer opportunity for all | ParkRecord.com

The Park Record editorial, December 1-3, 2010Local schools offer opportunity for all

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Local elementary schools are doing what some said was impossible they are closing the achievement gap.

One of the biggest criticisms of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is that the required benchmarks fail to account for the unequal challenges facing individual schools. For example, many of the schools that struggled during the first years that the federal mandates were in place served disproportionately higher populations of non-English-speaking students. Unfortunately, because of the legislation’s rigid guidelines, those schools were penalized when they failed to achieve expected test-score improvements from year to year.

It must have been a discouraging time for educators, especially those devoted to teaching the underprivileged.

Apparently, though, many Park City teachers were undaunted. Staff and administrators at Parley’s Park, Trailside and McPolin elementary schools, in particular, where there are substantial numbers of non-English speaking immigrants have made enormous efforts to help all of their students including those who might have been overlooked prior to the adoption of NCLB to improve.

Their efforts are paying off with measurable results. Recently, members of the Park City Board of Education reviewed test scores from Parley’s Park third, fourth and fifth graders and noted substantial progress, much of which came from the students who spoke English as a second language. Similar strides were noted at Trailside and McPolin.

Those improvements required special classes for students, additional training for teachers and after-school programs. As a result, here in Park City, the achievement gap that plagues schools all over the country is shrinking in both math and language.

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Thankfully, the staff and administrators at McPolin, Parley’s Park and Trailside have undertaken the challenge in the spirit that the law intended that is to ensure that in our public schools all students are being served, including those with unique learning challenges.

The teachers, aides, principals and volunteers who are responsible for this encouraging news are to be congratulated. Their efforts are helping our community and our country live up to its reputation as a land of opportunity for all.

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