Originally created 12/31/06

Test scores are stagnant despite No Child Left Behind



Aiken County pupils' scores have remained the same over the years - even with No Child Left Behind.

Schools are being labeled as "failing" because administrators are having a hard time meeting requirements under the federal act, school officials said.

"When people see, 'Oh, it's a failing school,' they don't look to see that everybody's giving their best effort," said Sarah Emerling, a Busbee Elementary School special-education teacher.

David Mathis, the associate superintendent for administration, said the district's curriculum is correctly aligned and the test scores remain above state averages. The biggest frustration for the county is in the fine details of the federal act.

"I don't see where No Child Left Behind has helped the system because the playing field from state to state is not level," Dr. Mathis said. "When we can play on a level playing field, I think it will have more substance to it. The concept of No Child Left Behind is a good one - no one has a desire to leave a child behind - but good policy should be supported by good practice."

The lack of federal funding hinders districts in improving low-scoring areas.

"There are 4-year-old programs that are organized out of federal funds, but it is never enough," Dr. Mathis said. "If the federal government fully funded programs they mandate, then we could close that gap."

Ms. Emerling, however, said the government will never change the policy if more people aren't vocal about the inconsistencies.

"A parent has so much more power to make their concerns known; you always see teachers rallying against this, but not enough parents are," Ms. Emerling said. "Get in touch with legislators and local politicians."

ONLINE EXTRA

Click here to review state data on test scores and student improvement.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106, or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.