Federal No Child Left Behind law poses challenges for Oregon schools.Byline: Anne Williams The Register-Guard
In the strict new world of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110), commonly known as NCLB (IPA: /ˈnɪkəlbiː/), is a United States federal law that was passed in the House of Representatives on May 23, 2001 , schools all over the nation are finding out that, indeed, every child counts.
Just ask Creswell Middle School Principal Shirley Burrus, who learned from her morning newspaper last Aug. 12 that her school had apparently missed achievement targets under the law for the second year in a row, placing it on an official list of 42 Oregon schools required to notify parents of its troubled status.
"We were very upset," Burrus said of her and her staff. "It hurts when people tell you you're not doing a good enough job."
After some detective work, it came down to this: The school had missed by a fraction of a percentage point the federal requirement that 95 percent of all students be tested - solely because of one student not taking the test.
Here's what happened: In the fall of 2003, the boy, then a freshman at Creswell High, got bumped back to repeat the eighth grade. It had more to do with behavior than academics, officials said - in fact, the boy had aced the state assessment tests given the previous spring to all eighth-graders.
Because he'd done so well, when testing time came around again, his teachers decided he shouldn't have to take them a second time.
The Oregon Department of Education The Department of Education of the U.S. state of Oregon is responsible for implementation of state policies with respect to public education at the kindergarten through community college level, including academic standards and testing, credentials, and other matters not reserved to didn't see it that way. The boy was counted as missing the test, dropping Creswell below the 95 percent participation rate.
The district appealed the determination, and ultimately prevailed after much back-and-forth with department officials. On Dec. 7, when the department makes public the final report on which schools in Oregon made "adequate yearly progress Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is a measurement defined by the United States federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically. " (AYP AYP Adequate Yearly Progress (National Assessment of Educational Progress)
AYP Anarchist Yellow Pages
AYP American Youth Philharmonic ) under No Child Left Behind, Creswell Middle School will be in the clear, like approximately 75 percent of the state's schools.
Educators interviewed for this story uniformly support the goals of No Child Left Behind, and most agree that schools have masked A state of being disabled or cut off. achievement gaps among groups of students by focusing on overall averages. But it's rare to find cheerleaders Notable cheerleaders
Creswell's experience illustrates some of the many challenges the fledgling law poses for educators:
It is all-or-nothing. Schools must meet state-set targets for academic performance, test participation and graduation Graduation is the action of receiving or conferring an academic degree or the associated ceremony. The date of event is often called degree day. The event itself is also called commencement, convocation or invocation. rates, and not just for the overall student body. The law holds schools accountable for raising the achievement of ALL students, so every sub-group - students from each major racial and ethnic group, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and "limited English proficient pro·fi·cient
Having or marked by an advanced degree of competence, as in an art, vocation, profession, or branch of learning.
An expert; an adept. " students - must also meet all of those targets.
Whether a school falls short in one or dozens of those categories, it doesn't make AYP. (Creswell Middle School, for instance, missed the required test participation rate only among its economically disadvantaged students, a group that included that eighth-grade boy.)
It is labor-intensive. The data collection, tracking and reporting required under the law is a mammoth mammoth, name for several large prehistoric elephants of the extinct genus Mammuthus, which ranged over Eurasia and North America in the Pleistocene epoch. task for school and education department staffs already stretched thin by tight budgets.
It is prone to errors. On the initial AYP list last August, data mistakes and misinterpretations torpedoed not just Creswell Middle, but also Creswell High and Creslane Elementary; all three of those schools will be in the clear on the final list, along with approximately 60 others in Oregon that initially appeared to have missed the mark. On the flip side Flip side
In the context of general equities, opposite side to a proposition or position (buy, if sell is the proposition and vice versa). , more than 20 schools that initially made AYP will actually miss it in the final report.
It is high-stakes - but only for some schools. Schools like Creswell Middle School, which receives federal Title I assistance money because of its sizeable poverty rate, face escalating consequences if they fall short in the same category for two years in a row. Those consequences initially include being forced to offer transfers to other schools (not an option in small districts like Creswell, which only has one middle school), then providing free tutoring and, ultimately, restructuring restructuring - The transformation from one representation form to another at the same relative abstraction level, while preserving the subject system's external behaviour (functionality and semantics). the school or handing it over to an appointed authority for new governance. Schools that don't get Title I money face no consequences beyond public embarrassment.
The rating system is inherently harder on larger schools with diverse populations. To constitute a valid sample size, the state needs test scores from at least 11 students per sub-group. That makes it quite easy for a small, homogenous homogenous - homogeneous elementary school elementary school: see school. to make AYP, but not a large, diverse urban high school.
It is confusing con·fuse
v. con·fused, con·fus·ing, con·fus·es
a. To cause to be unable to think with clarity or act with intelligence or understanding; throw off.
b. . Few educators fully grasp the law's requirements, formulas and consequences, and most parents have only a rudimentary rudimentary /ru·di·men·ta·ry/ (roo?di-men´tah-re)
1. imperfectly developed.
1. notion of how it works and what it means.
"I don't think the general public understands what the criteria means - what it really means to 'meet' or 'not meet,' " longtime long·time
Having existed or persisted for a long time: a longtime friend; a longtime resident of Detroit.
Adjective Creswell Middle School teacher Ron Lempe said.
Part of the reason parents get muddled mud·dle
v. mud·dled, mud·dling, mud·dles
1. To make turbid or muddy.
2. To mix confusedly; jumble.
3. To confuse or befuddle (the mind), as with alcohol. over No Child Left Behind and its AYP list may be the sheer volume of similar reports for their children's schools, all of which get splashed splash
v. splashed, splash·ing, splash·es
1. To propel or scatter (a fluid) about in flying masses.
2. across newspapers and placed on agendas for discussion at school board and parent-teacher organization meetings.
First, usually in late summer, come the scores for all the state tests, which include math, reading, writing, science and, until this year, math problem solving problem solving
Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error. (because of problems with its reliability, the latter test has been temporarily scratched). Sometimes all the results come in a single release, but often they come in batches, each generating another story in the media.
Some or all of the tests have traditionally been given in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10. To comply with No Child Left Behind, however, testing will be expanded to grades 3 through 8 and grade 10, beginning this year.
On the heels of the scores comes the draft report on which schools make AYP under No Child Left Behind, which by law must be released 30 days before the start of school - in time to give parents at Title I schools on the troubled list a chance to enroll their children in higher-performing schools.
Last year, the final, revised list - with multiple corrections - was released in mid-November; this year, officials have already delayed the release twice to ensure accuracy.
Finally, there's the Oregon school report card, which has been released in January in past years but this year will come out on Dec. 7, the same day as the final AYP list. Mandated by the Legislature, the report card predates No Child Left Behind by four years, but aims to fulfill ful·fill also ful·fil
tr.v. ful·filled, ful·fill·ing, ful·fills also ful·fils
1. To bring into actuality; effect: fulfilled their promises.
2. a similar purpose: holding schools accountable to the public, especially parents.
Like the AYP reports, the state report cards rely largely on state test score results, although the method used to come up with a rating differs substantially. In fact, largely because the Oregon report card does not look at the performance of sub-groups, it's possible for a school to earn an "exceptional" rating yet fail to make AYP.
On the Oregon report cards, which are sent to students' homes, parents can find how their schools rated - exceptional, strong, satisfactory, low or unacceptable - along with a wealth of information about the school, such as the dropout (1) On magnetic media, a bit that has lost its strength due to a surface defect or recording malfunction. If the bit is in an audio or video file, it might be detected by the error correction circuitry and either corrected or not, but if not, it is often not noticed by the human rate, weapons expulsions and the student-to-teacher ratio.
All of the reports aim to give parents the information they need to make good choices about their children's education - and yet many parents say they have little use for them.
"I think these reports are valuable in terms of having some form of accountability, but I think they are misleading and confusing," said Becky Millon of Eugene, who has children at Family School Elementary and Spencer Butte Spencer Butte is a prominent landmark in Lane County, Oregon, United States, south of Eugene. The peak has an elevation of 2055 feet (626 m). Spencer Butte is accessible from Spencer Butte Park and has several hiking trails to the summit. Middle School. "I personally am pretty involved in the schools, and I feel really confused about, 'What does that mean?' "
While some parents undoubtedly consider test scores before they choose a school, Rene Minz did not when her family moved to Eugene last year after four and-a-half years in New Zealand The table of years in New Zealand is a tabular display of all years in New Zealand, for overview and quick navigation to any year. Before 1800
Prior to 1800 in New Zealand 1800s in New Zealand
"We asked other parents, 'What do you think of your school?' " said Minz, who has two children at Spencer Butte. "That is how we chose a school. We knew No Child Left Behind had happened while we were gone, but it was meaningless to me, based on what I'd heard."
At a recent parent-teacher conference night at Creswell Middle School, several parents said they do pay attention to test scores and school ratings. When Debbie McCrory saw the August newspaper article saying the school had missed AYP, she immediately called her sister, a teacher at the school, to ask what was up.
She was reassured re·as·sure
tr.v. re·as·sured, re·as·sur·ing, re·as·sures
1. To restore confidence to.
2. To assure again.
3. To reinsure. when she learned more about what had tripped up the school, but what's really given her confidence is her seventh-grade daughter's experience there, she said.
"She's doing really well," she said, clutching Morgan's report card on her way out. "She's very happy here, although she's so social that she forgets to do her homework sometimes."
Principal Burrus said that's a typical reaction from parents, who tend to rely mainly on their personal impressions and instincts to assess their children's schools. In fact, Burrus said she didn't get a single phone call or e-mail following the news of the poor rating and a subsequent letter she was required to send to all parents informing them of the results.
The federal government has boosted Title I funding for schools under No Child Left Behind, but there's widespread agreement among educators that it doesn't come close to meeting the law's obligations.
Other common gripes gripe
v. griped, grip·ing, gripes
1. Informal To complain naggingly or petulantly; grumble.
2. To have sharp pains in the bowels.
1. include the law's demands that children with disabilities and with limited English skills meet, with some exceptions, the same performance standards as other students; its escalating consequences for Title I schools, which many believe do more harm than good; its focus on standardized testing A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  as the sole means of assessing student progress; and its goal of 100 percent proficiency pro·fi·cien·cy
n. pl. pro·fi·cien·cies
The state or quality of being proficient; competence.
Noun 1. proficiency - the quality of having great facility and competence among all groups of students by 2014, which many believe is unattainable.
Some district officials in Oregon are also grumpy grump·y
adj. grump·i·er, grump·i·est
Surly and peevish; cranky.
grumpi·ly adv. about the way the media reports results, particularly when the label "failing" is used to describe a school that missed AYP, and the way the Oregon Department of Education has handled the reports. Take the less-than-reliable draft AYP list, for example.
"They hate it," said Kent Hunsaker, executive director of the Confederation A union of states in which each member state retains some independent control over internal and external affairs. Thus, for international purposes, there are separate states, not just one state. of Oregon School Administrators. "The preliminary list is the one that really hits the newspapers hard. The final one is buried back in the paper somewhere where nobody notices it much."
Jon Bridges, the Department of Education's data coordinator on both AYP and the state report card, said the department is working to improve the time-line for next year. As the recipient of hundreds of phone calls in recent months from angry and befuddled school district officials, Bridges is eager to make things work better.
"What we hope to do this year is put more of the data out for verification by the school districts earlier - by the middle of June," said Bridges, one of three full-time employees assigned to work on the reports (there's also one half-time person). That way, he said, school secretaries, principals and superintendents could check and sign off on the data before they leave for the summer.
Hunsaker serves on an advisory committee that's looking to blend the AYP report and the Oregon report card, in hopes of reducing errors and lessening public confusion.
Jack Jennings, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy, has been tracking No Child Left Behind for two years, and said the road to AYP has been bumpy bump·y
adj. bump·i·er, bump·i·est
1. Covered with or full of bumps: a bumpy country road.
2. Marked by bumps and jolts; rough: a bumpy flight. in other states, as well.
"This is far from a perfect system," he said. "It's very common for there to be mistakes. That's why the law requires that school districts have an opportunity to appeal their status."
Daria Hall, a policy analyst for the Education Trust, also based in Washington, D.C., cautioned that errors and confusion are "not the law's fault." Her organization has been a staunch defender of No Child Left Behind, believing it holds great promise for closing the achievement gap.
Struggles to implement the law and clearly communicate its goals are "absolutely worth it," she said. "There is so much value and potential in the AYP system. What it is is it's a signal, it tells parents, community members, educators, policy makers what schools and whatstudents are able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they need in order to be successful, and what schools and what students need additional support in order to do that."
The Education Trust regularly sends its employees out into schools around the country to explain the motivation behind No Child Left Behind and the intricacies of AYP.
"What we hear unequivocally from parents and community members is, 'You know what, this is information I've been wanting for a long time,' " Hall said. "They say, 'This is useful. I can't believe I didn't know this before. This wasn't explained to me.' ''
On December 7, the Oregon Department of Education will release two separate reports that assess every school in the state. They are:
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): This final report, following a draft released in August, says which schools and districts made AYP under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Each year, the performance of all students, as well as subgroups of students, is measured against annual targets determined by the state.
Oregon School Report Card: Mandated by the state Legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
ON THE WEB
Detailed information on the No Child Left Behind Act and the AYP rating system is available on scores of Web sites. Here are four:
Oregon Department of Education: www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=198. Information on the state report cards is also easy to find through the main Web site, www.ode.state.or.us.
The United States Department of Education The United States Department of Education (also referred to as ED, for Education Department) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government. Created by the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88), it began operating in 1980. : www.ed.gov/nclb
The Education Trust: www.edtrust.org/edtrust. Click on "The ABCs of AYP" for a clear explanation of the system, which it strongly supports.
National Education Association: www.nea.org/esea. The teachers union has been a loud critic of AYP and other elements of No Child Left Behind.
Creswell Middle School Principal Shirley Burrus gets a lesson on using a handheld computer A computing device that can be easily held in one hand while the other hand is used to operate it. The Palm devices are a popular example. See Palm, smartphone and palmtop. from Breanna Schmidt, 11, and Keiry Spoero, 12.