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No Child Left Behind

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1Shaela ElsasserCI 405; Section CNo Child Left Behind – Rural School DistrictsThe No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), a federal legislation passed by Congress,is widely discussed and effects school districts in various ways across the country. Although seenand heard quite often in recent news, this legislation is not current. No Child Left Behind, is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act first enacted in 1965 and last reauthorized in 1994. The original act provided supplementary federal funding for education programs primarily for disadvantaged students from K-12. Reauthorizing the federal legislation, Congress continued to define these educational programs and added new accountability mandates. States now must meet these mandates in order to receive funding for the programs. According to The Education Trust, mandates include: 1) Develop content standards in 3 key academic areas (reading, math, and science), 2) Develop assessments to measure performance across the state, 3) Set an achievement “standard” or target per year, 4) Record progress of all students – including those with disabilities, and 5) Keep record of all schools in order for achievement of the goal set to be reached by 2014 (Responding, 32). The primary goal of No Child Left Behind is to close the “achievement gaps” between the wide ranges of student demographics; all states are required to bring each student to state- designated proficiency levels in reading and math by the year 2014. Although these mandates are reachable by certain schools, others have found difficulty in reaching their designated target per year. This paper will explore the difficulties most rural school districts face when forced to meet the same accountability mandates as other schools. Specific mandates including those specifying teacher qualities and testing will thoroughly be discussed along with their effects on schools found in isolated rural areas or those educating a large population of low-income students. Ways of improving these2struggles will also be discussed. The National Association of State Boards of Education, Brenda Welburn, claims: "For too long, the unique challenges of our rural schools have been overlooked while most reforms have targeted urban communities. Their limited resources, small economiesof scale and sprawling distances make certain education reforms especially difficult in rural areas" (Guide). The government places rigid qualifications on what is deemed a “rural school”. According to the U.S. Department of Education website, a district is named rural if – 1) The number of students educated on a daily average in all schools within the Institution is less than 600, or the county which the school serves has a total population density of less than 10 people per square mile, 2) The schools served are designated with a school locale code of 7 or 8 by the institution’s Nation Center for Educational Statistics (More - Eligibility). Although rural schools must meet rigid qualifications, these schools prove to play a large role in our national school system. Statistics show the percentage of White public school students in rural areas is larger than that in any other location. American Indian/Alaska Native public school students also form a larger percentage of the rural areas compared to other locals. In 2003-2004, a larger percentage of public school students in rural areas attended extremely small schools, consisting of fewer than 200 hundred students, than public schools located in towns, suburbs, or cities. Although fewer students are enrolled within these rural areas, test scores are not consistently lower. Statistics show a larger percentage of students enrolled in a rural public school in the 4th and 8th grades in 2005 scored at or above the proficiency level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than did 4th and 8th grade students in city public schools. However, a smaller percentage of rural students scored above the proficiency level compared to students enrolled in suburban public schools. College enrollment rate was found generally lower in rural areas than in all other locations in 2004 (Status).3With multiple programs and funding, the government has hoped for yearly progress; data shows various outcomes. Two studies present specific data after testing if rural schools have or have not made AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) per particular year. One study sampled a group of 466 schools that qualified for SRSA (Small, Rural School Achievement Program) and 468 schools that qualified for RLIS (Rural and Low-Income School Program). The outcome showed 72% of rural schools made AYP, 20% failed, and 8% did not report adequate data. The causes of the failed AYP were primarily because of the school failing as a whole (Farmer, pg 6). A second study, taken in the rural districts across Pennsylvania, shows a positive trend toward making AYP. Almost 92 percent of the rural schools made AYP in 2004. A review across the 2002 to 2005 years proved a well performance in safety, employing highly qualified teachers, participating in testing, graduation and attendance, and proving growing academic excellence (Smeaton, pg 8). Besides test scores, other trends are found that may define rural. Funding is one major difference between city, suburban, and rural schools. A larger number of students attending a moderate- to – high poverty school were found in rural areas compared to all other locations withthe exception of large and midsize cities. Found in 2005, the number of public school students per instructional computer with Internet access in rural schools was lower than in both suburban and city schools. Teacher salary is found to be less in rural areas than their colleagues in towns, suburbs, and cities. This pay amount is true even after adjusting for geographic cost differences (Status). With this information, it is easy to see struggles and difficulties rural school systems face. Although rural schools must work through many obstacles, a couple seem most prevalent.One NCLB mandate states that all students must be taught exclusively by a “highly qualified” teacher. To be considered “highly qualified” each is to 1) have earned a bachelor’s4degree, 2) hold a state certification or licensure, and 3) be competent in the core subject areas they teach. Although this may not seem abnormal in some areas, statistics show rural schools employ 35.8% of teachers


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