NCLB is now accepted procedure
It is now four years since No Child Left Behind became a household word and despite the early bouts of panic, no Summit County schools have been closed, no teachers have been fired and none of the county’s three school districts have gone broke.
The federal accountability standards that met with such resistance from school officials when it was introduced, is now a way of life. So much so that when the results of the annual school proficiency tests were reported earlier this week and a Park City school was found lacking, there was no major hue and cry about unjust federal mandates or undue criticism of the school.
Teachers, administrators and school district patrons took the news, that Treasure Mountain International School had failed its U-PASS report, in stride.
TMIS principal Bob O’Connor issued the perfect response: "The state has identified the problem, and now we’ll fix it."
According to U-PASS, an outgrowth of the NCLB legislation, the school’s disabled students did not improve enough over the previous year to meet the rigorous No Child Left Behind standards. In other measurements the school received high marks.
While the tests related to NCLB are cumbersome and still need fine-tuning, the legislation is doing what it set out to do it is forcing school districts to quantitatively prove they are doing their job.
It is a lot like the annoying quizzes and tests that students are forced to endure. They hate them, but the results provide concrete measures, not only of whether the they have been doing their homework, but whether the curriculum is appropriate. Too many A-pluses would indicate the material is too easy too many Fs suggest the work is too hard or the teacher is not connecting with her students.
In fact, state and federal educators have been notching up the NCLB standards since they were first implemented with the specific intent of highlighting school weaknesses. A few years ago, McPolin Elementary was singled out for inadequate progress in specific areas that led to a beefing up of the school’s English as a Second Language programs. The school has since excelled on those tests.
Teachers and administrators should welcome the opportunity to measure the success of their programs. In that same spirit, parents and other district patrons should offer support when some of those programs are found to be inadequate.
Park City School District leaders have been vocal about their ambition to provide top drawer educational programs and that goal rightfully applies to all of the districts’ students not just the high achievers. U-PASS is one way to ensure that disabled, special education and non-English speaking students are not left behind in the quest to become one of the nation’s top 10 school districts.
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