BPS Says Title One Standards Hard to Reach - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

BPS Says Title One Standards Hard to Reach

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North Dakota is one of only five states still participating in the No Child Left Behind Act, and Title One school administrators are frustrated with what they say are inaccurate and unfair standards set for their schools.

Principals and staff have been told if the standards aren't met, the schools have failed the children, but they believe there is proof to contradict that.

In 2002, North Dakota had 18 schools under the act, and the next school year the number will grow to more than 160 schools.

The intent of No Child Left Behind was to make sure all students in public schools were reaching specific academic goals. In the beginning, administrators were given benchmark percentages of how many students at each school would have to have reach their goals, for the schools to be in compliance.

As years went on, the percentages increased and it became harder and harder for schools to meet the standards. The result was a label that said the school needed improvement, but the Department of Public Education (DPI) says it's not the school's fault.

"The data that we are forced to put out does not reflect that. That's not fair and an accurate picture of what education is like in North Dakota," says Laurie Matzke of DPI.

In 2008, Congress was expected to alter the act, but disagreements have produced no changes. Schools are now expected to have 100 percent of students reaching their goals. A goal that sounds good, but seems very unlikely.

"We really try to help parents understand the progress students are making because there are many positives. It's the first year where we saw all of our MAP score, an increase in all of our Map Scores across the district," says Linnett Schmidkunz a Title One coordinator.

Administrators say they don't completely bash NCLB, they say it has brought districts together to work harder, not for 100 percent efficiency, but for each child to succeed.

"We're definitely promoting continuous school improvement. But I think what most principals, teachers, educators will tell you their fault is with No Child Left Behind are the sanctions that occur once they get identified," says Matzke.

Having to tell parents that their school needs improvement or being labeled a failed school doesn't sit well.

Administrators say No Child Left Behind isn't all bad, it gives more than $30 million in funding to North Dakota schools.


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