More Iowa Schools Missing Target in Federal No Child Left Behind
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
CENTRAL CITY, Iowa — Schools statewide in Iowa slipped last year in terms of complying with the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Iowa education officials released the yearly report card for schools on Tuesday. It showed 869 out of 1,361 public schools, that’s 64 percent, failed to meet the targets for math and reading. The year before, 715 schools fell short of the performance goals.
Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck noted that the scores for schools this year are somewhat misleading. The year before, meeting the requirements meant 80 percent of students had to test as “proficient” in the different categories. This year, a passing score for schools was 94 percent. In 2014, it becomes 100 percent.
Buck said “this one-size-fits-all federal system is unfair and unequipped to drive us toward better outcomes for students.” Buck said No Child Left Behind does not recognize, or give schools credit for, any improvement that falls below the federal standard. It also does not recognize that students come to schools at different levels of performance that may make reaching a federal proficiency level difficult.
While two thirds of schools failed to meet performance levels in some categories, Central City had reason to celebrate. This small Linn County district, comprising just 480 students, met standards both as a district and also the individual school grade levels. But new superintendent Tim Cronin said it is not a time to sit and rest on laurels. Cronin said with so few students, if just a handful don’t do well during testing it could skew results for the entire district on a percentage basis.
Cronin said while Central City meets criteria, elementary classes in reading and math are in a “watch” category this year. That means another year below target levels in those subjects would push the entire elementary school onto the Schools in Need of Assistance, or SINA, list. That’s something teachers and administrators want to avoid at all costs. This year, the school will try a few new twists in those areas to make sure students are doing as well as possible in reading and math to score well.
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