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Selected Education Media Clips on No Child Left Behind

Success Rate High For Local Schools - Only 7 Fall Short On State Testing

Joshua Partlow
Washington Post
July 1, 2004

Southern Maryland's public school systems generally met the state criteria for progress on standardized reading and math tests, according to state data released this week.

Maryland has established standards that each school must meet to show it is making "adequate yearly progress" and performing proficiently on the Maryland School Assessment tests, which students take each spring.

Across the state, nearly 200 public schools -- more than one-third of them in Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- failed to meet those standards. But in Southern Maryland, just seven schools -- two in Calvert, two in Charles and three in St. Mary's -- missed the performance mark this year.

"We're right on target," said Charles County Superintendent James E. Richmond. "We're doing everything we can to make sure we meet the expectations of the Maryland assessments."

The performance targets, mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, are applied to several subgroups within schools, including racial and ethnic groups, low-income children, special education students, and those who speak limited English. A school must have every subgroup reach the standards to pass as a whole, and each year, the standards get increasingly stringent.

In Charles County, at Piccowaxen Middle School, African American students and special education students did not, as groups, meet the proficiency standards in reading this year. Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary also missed the mark for reading among special education students.

"We've already worked with them on their school improvement plans," Richmond said. "We have efforts in place to address special education scores."

In St. Mary's County, Benjamin Banneker Elementary and George Washington Carver Elementary failed to meet the special education reading standard for the first time this year. But Superintendent Patricia M. Richardson said that with one more proficient student at Banneker, and two more at Carver, the schools would have met the state goals.

"It's a signal we need to continue moving forward, strengthening the quality of instruction, but it's not a signal that there needs to be a complete overhaul," she said.

Spring Ridge Middle School missed the reading standards for special education and limited-income students. It was the second year of below-standard performance for the school, placing it on a list of schools needing improvement.

Richardson said a "technical assistance team," made up of central office staff members and instruction supervisors, will work at the school, analyzing testing data and areas where teacher training could be improved as well as monitoring student progress. A similar program has been in place at Greenview Knolls Elementary, and Richardson said the intervention led to widespread improvement there on standardized tests.

"You can't just wait until this test comes around in the spring, you have to monitor year-round," she said.

Two schools in Southern Maryland -- Appeal Elementary in Calvert and Lexington Park Elementary in St. Mary's -- showed enough improvement for two consecutive years to be taken off the "school improvement" list.

At Appeal, the addition of Principal Laurie Haynie brought "new energy to the building and some new expectations," said Carol Reid, assistant superintendent for instruction in Calvert County.

"There were some very, very focused interventions in the areas of reading and math," Reid said. "And a determination on the part of that staff that they didn't like the label [of a struggling school]. They worked overtime to show that they were better than that."

The schools that dipped below the standards this year in Calvert -- Southern Middle School and Mill Creek Middle School -- failed to reach proficiency in special education reading, according to data from the state.

Overall, 14 percent of public schools in Maryland -- 199 out of 1,430 -- did not meet state requirements. Last year, 37 percent failed to reach the standards. This year's results are based on reading and math tests taken by third-, fifth-, and eighth-graders, as well as a 10th-grade reading test. Schools that continually fail to reach the standards may have to pay for tutoring their students or allow children to transfer to higher-performing schools.

The challenge to meet state standards will only become tougher in coming years, as the performance bar is raised several percentage points. By 2014, all students will be expected to reach proficiency levels.

"It never stops," Richmond said. "You can't go backwards, we've got to continue to go forward."

 

Tallahassee Democrat

Sexual misconduct by adults plagues students

Ben Feller
The Associated Press
1 July 2004
The Tallahassee Democrat

WASHINGTON

More than 4.5 million students endure sexual misconduct by employees at their schools, from inappropriate jokes all the way to forced sex, according to a report to Congress.

The best estimate available shows nearly one in 10 kids faces misbehavior ranging from unprofessional to criminal sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade, says the report by Charol Shakeshaft, a Hofstra University professor.

"Most people just don't think this can really happen," said Shakeshaft, hired by the Education Department to study the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools. "We imagine that all teachers are like most teachers, in that they've gone into teaching to help children. Most do, but not all."

The report, required by the No Child Left Behind law and delivered to Congress on Wednesday, is the first to analyze research about sexual misconduct at schools.

Some educators took issue with the way the report combines sexual abuse with other behaviors, such as inappropriate jokes, in one broad category of sexual misconduct.

"Lumping harassment together with serious sexual misconduct does more harm than good by creating unjustified alarm and undermining confidence in public schools," said Michael Pons, spokesman for the National Education Association, a union of 2.7 million school employees. "Statistically, public schools remain one of the safest places for children to be."

 

Pioneer Press

Sex offenses in schools detailed
Los Angeles Times
1 July 2004
St. Paul Pioneer Press
 

WASHINGTON — Nearly 10 percent of U.S. elementary and secondary students will experience some kind of sexual misconduct — from inappropriate jokes to actual molestation — committed by school employees, according to a report compiling more than 10 years of research.

The study, required by the No Child Left Behind Act and delivered to Congress on Wednesday, pulls together research, surveys, media reports and criminal statistics to

examine the frequency of sexual harassment and abuse involving students and adults.

"This report arms parents with information," said Brian Jones, general counsel at the Education Department.

Teachers or teachers' aides are responsible for about 40 percent of incidents, the report found. Black and Latino students are more likely than white students to be targets of misconduct. About 56 percent of students who reported misconduct were female, and 57 percent of the offenders were male.

The report covers students ages 5 to 18 and all school employees, including teachers, coaches, bus drivers, counselors and administrators. Although the study was commissioned to look at only sexual abuse, researcher Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Hofstra University, chose to broaden the scope to include lesser infractions, such as sexual comments, graffiti and groping.

Federal Education Secretary Cites Progress
Steven Carter
The Oregonian
30 June 2004

News in other sections: U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow pumps hands and stumps for the Bush administration's economic policies during a quick visit to Portland. Business, B1

Summary: Rod Paige tells teachers at a Portland conference that improvements are coming with No Child Left Behind

U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige said Tuesday that the No Child Left Behind law is beginning to show results. He dismissed critics who contend it should be abandoned or radically changed.

"Anytime you have big changes, you are going to have complaints," Paige said during a Portland visit. "A lot of good things are going on."

Paige, a Bush appointee, dropped in on a U.S. Department of Education workshop on effective teaching practices. Speaking to about 200 teachers from around the nation, he praised their work and said that to make them more effective, the department will spend about $5 billion next year to improve teacher quality.

Outside the Portland Marriott Downtown meeting, however, a noisy group of Oregon teachers waved picket signs and complained No Child Left Behind is underfunded and too rigid. The Oregon Education Association, the state teachers union, issued a statement calling the conference a "thinly veiled political tool to promote President Bush" during an election year.

Paige denied he was making a political appearance and said it was a coincidence that Treasury Secretary John Snow was in Portland the same day.

The No Child Left Behind law, enacted in 2001, requires students to be tested annually in reading and math, and schools to boost academic performance so that all students meet state benchmarks by 2014. Schools must demonstrate annual progress toward that goal for all groups of students, including minority, disabled and limited- English students.

Paige dismisses complaints

Paige, in a news conference later, said some educators are complaining about the law because, for the first time, there are serious consequences for schools and districts where performance doesn't improve.

"We need to stay the course and not water down the law," Paige said.

He told the teachers that the law appears to be making a difference. Reading test scores among fourth-graders had been flat for years despite increasing amounts of federal support to schools. But in the past two years, Paige said, there has been modest improvement.

"I see the corner being turned somewhat in student achievement," Paige said. "The trend is up. More important, we see even more dramatic increases in the big urban areas."

The two-day workshop brought teachers from 37 states to hear presentations from other teachers who have improved student performance, sometimes in difficult circumstances. It is the second of seven teacher-to-teacher workshops the department is sponsoring. The federal Education Department pays conference fees and lodging for participants.

Some questions about law

Cheryl Wester, a special education teacher from Crescent City, Calif., said she got valuable tips on teaching reading and writing to her students.

"It's been very informative, very inspiring," she said.

But she questioned whether all students could achieve her state's academic standards in 10 years, as required by the act.

Jan Pearce, a Lake Oswego elementary schoolteacher who was among protesters outside the hotel, said the No Child Left Behind law is good in theory but bad in practice. Why should schools in her district be labeled as not making adequate yearly progress when Lake Oswego has some of the highest college-entrance exam scores in the state, she asked.

"I think," she said, "this law has the potential to dismantle public education."

Steven Carter: 503-221-8521; stevencarter@news.oregonian.com

 

Schools may be spared sanctions; Tweaks could lessen No Child Left Behind law's effect on state
Gregg Sherrard Blesch
30 June 2004
The Columbian

Changes in how Washington educators comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law may dramatically reduce the number of schools facing sanctions for failing to get enough students to meet math and reading benchmarks, a state official says.

Several technical but significant tweaks could reduce the number of schools and districts in jeopardy of sanctions under the law by 30 percent to 40 percent, said Pete Bylsma, director of research, evaluation and accountability for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The office expects to announce the new plan officially later this week, but administrators have acknowledged that the final version was approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, interviewed Tuesday in Portland, said the flexibility that allows such changes under the law is sufficient to answer complaints about the accountability system, which schools must implement in order to continue receiving federal funding.

"We want to stay the course and not weaken the law," Paige said after addressing about 200 teachers attending a conference his department organized. "I think it's time for us to muster the will and to experience some of the cost when you go through a big change."

Each state is required to submit a workbook showing how its schools comply with the law's strict and complicated demands, representing the most far-reaching role the federal government has ever played in public education, which is largely financed by state and local taxes.

The biggest change in Washington's plan gives schools three years to show growth in the percentages of students meeting benchmarks, rather than holding educators responsible for annual gains.

Thus, when the results of the 2004 Washington Assessment of Student Learning are announced in August, schools will be judged against the 2002 goals for the percentages of students passing the tests. In 2005, the expectations will "stair step" to higher goals. Under the previous system, the goals increased each year.

Many states, including Oregon, adopted "stair-step" models from the beginning. Either way, schools are obligated to get 100 percent of students to meet the standards by 2014.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools and districts that receive federal funding for poor students, known as Title I, face a progressive series of remedial sanctions when too few students meet reading and math benchmarks.

All schools, whether or not they receive that funding, are required to report to the community whether they've met the goals. They escape the teeth, but not the finger-pointing.

"Overall, we learned from the first year," Bylsma said. The 2003- 2004 school year was the first the law was fully implemented. "The feds are still learning how this is all going to be implemented. We're getting it right."

The Department of Education, under mounting criticism that the law is unreasonably strict and costly, has offered greater flexibility within the letter of the legislation, particularly as it relates to students who are disabled or English language learners.

"This is the first time the plans (have) faced the real reality of schooling," Paige said. The fixes are genuine, not political, he said. "What we want to do is make sure that the law requires all of our kids to be measured but is not unreasonable about it."

Based on 2003 results on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, 432 of the state's 1,956 schools and 123 of 296 districts failed to clear the requirements of No Child Left Behind, which examines scores according to racial and ethnic groups, income and participation in special education and English language programs.

In Clark County, 23 schools and four districts Vancouver, Evergreen, Camas and Battle Ground failed to lift enough students over the bars set by the law. Only two of the schools, however, receive Title I funding, which is the hook for the sanctions.

The Vancouver School District's Peter S. Ogden and Eleanor Roosevelt elementary schools could be required in the fall to allow students to attend schools with higher test scores, depending on the results of the WASLs administered in April.

The modifications to the system may give the two schools some breathing room.

"It sounds very sensible," said Ogden Principal Curtis Smith, who has worried about staff morale flagging if his school was one of the first in the county to be sanctioned for low achievement. "I truly feel what we're doing is headed in the right direction, and this is giving us more time to grow and improve."

Washington's requests were similar to those of many other states, according to Patricia Sullivan, deputy executive assistant of the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. Sullivan said her organization has encouraged states to press the federal agency for flexibility allowed under the law. "It may not be everything you want, but it's what you've got right now," she said, describing her advice to state superintendents.

Tom Cone, an assistant superintendent for the Vancouver district, said the staff had not yet compared last year's data against the changes to predict how they would affect his district. In his view, the law is "fundamentally flawed" and should be reworked in Congress.

"In any other human attribute jumping, running there is no other place that we hold people accountable to the same standard of performance," Cone said. "It just makes no sense."

The law, the flagship of President Bush's domestic agenda, has become a bitter election year issue, even though Congress approved it with bipartisan support in 2001

Paige said his visit was about helping teachers rather than helping the president's re-election prospects, but Paige and No Child Left Behind will be prominent in Bush's campaign. Paige, along with such GOP superstars as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will deliver a prime-time speech during the Republican National Convention.

Meanwhile, the law has drawn harsh criticism from educators and state legislators who consider the demands too intrusive and too expensive. The nation's largest teachers union, the National Education Association, called for Paige's resignation after he publicly used the word "terrorist" to characterize the NEA's efforts to discredit the law.

Paige, 71, gained prominence as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in Bush's home state. In his comments to teachers gathered at the Portland Marriott Downtown, Paige, who is black, recounted his childhood in segregated Mississippi. "The tallest, most important people in my world were teachers," he said.

The three-day session is the second of seven summer workshops Paige's agency is sponsoring around the country to encourage teachers to share effective classroom strategies. Organizers said 90 Washington teachers attended, but could identify none from Clark County.

In a private session later with reporters, Paige spoke forcefully of the mission of the controversial law he's still trying to sell three years after its passage. "There is a national 30-point gap between the performances of African American students and Anglo students in the United States of America," he said. "Are we going to be able to accomplish our civil rights goals with that type of problem? We are not."

The debate

Does No Child Left Behind help or hurt schools?

On one side: The Bush administration stands by the sweeping federal law as a tough-but-necessary source of discipline, ensuring that public schools eliminate achievement gaps among rich and poor, and white and minority students.

On another side: Many educators and state legislators say the law sets impossible goals and fails to provide enough money to implement its demands.

How to get involved: Write to your representative and senators in Congress.

 

Education Tops Latino List
Russell Contreras
30 June 2004
Albuquerque Journal
 

Priorities Detailed In National Poll

Forget the war on terror. When it comes to what's on the minds of Latinos, education tops the list.

That's the finding of a nationwide poll that surveyed 1,000 Latinos at the end of May. The poll, conducted by New York-based Zogby International, found that 34 percent of those surveyed said education is the most important issue facing Latinos. Twenty-two percent said the economy was the most pressing issue, followed by immigration, civil rights and health care.

Two percent said the war on terror was the most important issue facing Latinos.

"All politicians should be on notice that speaking a few words in Spanish won't work anymore," said Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza. "Like other Americans, Latinos will vote on the issues."

The National Council of La Raza was a sponsor of the poll.

F. Chris Garcia, University of New Mexico political science professor, said he isn't surprised by this latest survey. "Since 1989, education has ranked as the No. 1 or 2 issue for Latinos," Garcia said.

The poll is important, he said, because it means in order to win a battleground state like New Mexico, presidential candidates will have to convince Latino voters their education plan is best.

Since Latino voters make up 36 percent of the state's electorate, the issue of education may sway the election, he said.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won New Mexico over George W. Bush by 366 votes. Gore got about a third of the Latino vote.

Polls show President Bush and the presumed Democratic nominee John Kerry in a statistical tie in New Mexico.

This latest survey on Latinos spells good news for the president, said Rosario Marin, national co-chair of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign. "While the Democrats continue to take the Latino vote for granted, President Bush has a clear record in improving education with Latinos," Marin said.

Marin said the president has increased Pell Grants to needy college students by 47 percent since taking office. And she said the No Child Left Behind law allows Latino parents to move their children from under performing schools.

But John Kerry spokesman Ruben Pulido Jr. said Bush's 2005 budget underfunds the No Child Left Behind law by $9.4 billion next year, with $66 million less coming to New Mexico than expected.

"John Kerry wants to ensure that any education program passed in Congress be automatically funded by law," Pulido said.

Bush officials say the law is fully funded.

Karen Sanchez-Griego, head of Albuquerque's ENLACE program, a Latino parent advocacy group, said both sides are already reaching out to the state's Latino population.

Kerry has invited local community leaders to a roundtable discussion on Latino education, and White House officials have invited leaders to Washington D.C. to discuss reforms, Sanchez- Griego said.

"We're hearing a lot of rhetoric on both sides," she said. "But we'll see who puts their money where their mouth is."

 

Associated Press

State education officials moving ahead with database

30 June 2004
Associated Press Newswires
 

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - The Department of Education is moving ahead with its plan to create an electronic database of student and school statistics.

The department is getting bids for a qualified provider to implement the system, which will collect student demographics, assessments, teacher, classroom and other school information in a single database.

Education Commissioner Richard Cate said he hopes schools and supervisory unions embrace the system and agree to participate once it's up and running.

"We are walking down this road gently and we will be talking to a lot of people in the process," Cate said. "Today, no, we will not require schools to take part. Down the road, we will be having discussions on requiring schools to report their data electronically."

The database has been a priority of Cate's since he became commissioner last year.

"I see it as a benefit for all. We want to bring it all together in one electronic system," said Cate.

Increased student reporting required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, as well as state data on test scores, attendance, school safety and dropout rates will all be entered into the system and delivered over the Internet, Cate said.

He stressed the security of such a system, and said students will have "unique, encoded identification numbers."

But Lauren Poster, a member of the Marlboro school board, said the electronic data warehouse was one of the main reasons the board voted in April to sign a resolution refusing to abide by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Poster said an administrator at her school received a letter that required the school to submit new information on the children, and to do it electronically.

"The privacy issue is a big concern for us. If Johnny gets medications, or speaks English as a second language, or has been reprimanded, I don't see why they need to know all of that. When you get all of the details in one place, the privacy issues are our ultimate concern," Poster said.

Students at risk for sexual abuse
By Greg Toppo
USA TODAY
June 30, 2004

As many as one in 10 public school students is sexually harassed or abused at some point by a teacher or other school worker, the first large-scale study on the topic suggests.

Sexual harassment, including inappropriate jokes, gestures, sexual rumors and flashing, is more prevalent than assault, says the study by Hofstra University's Charol Shakeshaft. But her analysis of previous research shows that offenses such as sexual touching and grabbing and forced sex probably are endured by 1 in 15 students some time in their school careers.

Brian Jones, general counsel of the Education Department, calls the abuse "widespread," adding, "The scope of sexual misconduct is much broader than what I think many of us thought or hoped."

David Finkelhor, director of Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, calls the figure "reasonable" but adds that "out-and-out sexual assault is fairly rare in school." He says sexual abuse, as well as other types of victimization, dropped in the 1990s and early in this decade, which may not be reflected in the studies.

Vincent Ferrandino of the National Association of Elementary School Principals says the figure "seems kind of high to me."

Educators also say it's misleading to combine sexual harassment and abuse into one category.

The new report, issued to Congress on Wednesday, was a requirement of the No Child Left Behind education law. It finds that the best estimate of "educator sexual misconduct" comes from a 2000 survey of students in eighth through 11th grades by the American Association of University Women. It found that 9.6% of students had experienced sexual harassment or abuse by teachers or other school employees.

The association's Jean-Marie Navetta says the group stands by its research, and "student-to-student" incidents are more common than those by adults.

The Education Department will review the study and "try to build sound policy based on it," Jones says.

 

199 public schools miss state standards, Improvement program aims to increase compliance with No Child Left Behind Act; 65 more in danger of being added
Bill McCauley
29 June 2004
The Baltimore Sun

Maryland will have 199 public schools next fall in a rigorous state-run improvement program designed to ensure compliance with the targets set in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to preliminary results released today by the Maryland State Department of Education.

That total includes 84 schools the MSDE placed in its improvement program for the first time for failing to achieve a threshold known as Adequate Yearly Progress the last two years.

MSDE also has kept 115 schools in the program, though 65 of those are eligible to leave the program if they meet the threshold next year, as they did this past year, according to MSDE.

A school must fail to meet the AYP threshold for two years in a row to be placed in the program.

A school that meets the threshold two years in a row can leave the improvement program -- a feat achieved by 25 schools this year, MSDE figures show.

To see if your child's school is failing to meet AYP, click here.

In addition, 65 schools are on "alert" -- in danger of being added to the improvement program after failing to achieve the AYP threshold this past year, MSDE said.

Last year, 388 schools were in danger of being added to the school improvement program.

Of that total, only 84 continued to fail to achieve AYP -- an example, state officials said, of how much overall student test scores improved in Maryland last school year.

Maryland School Assessment results released earlier this month, for example, showed scores increasing in all of Maryland's 24 schools systems.

"Our schools have done remarkably well this year, and consequently, the results are very encouraging," said Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools. "At the same time we still have a number of schools not making enough progress."

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires that public schools show improvement in both reading and math across all grade levels no matter race or ethnicity or whether students are in special education, have limited English skills or come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Illinois State Board of Education
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