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Inside The Law

Inside the Law

Analyzing, Debating and Explaining No Child Left Behind.

18,000 Look To Transfer in New York City

Parents of more than 18,000 New York City children have demanded they be transferred out of failing public schools and into better-performing schools as one of the rights given under No Child Left Behind.

There are at least 228,000 children in New York who are eligible to transfer because they attend schools in need of improvement. Nearly 18,500 requested transfer applications this year, says district spokesman Paul Rose.

"This shows a lot of people in the community have faith," Rose says. "We are making improvements, and they're willing to stick with current schools."

Nearly 8,800 children in failing schools will remain in their current school and 25,000 children in failing schools chose supplemental services, such as tutoring. The remaining 176,000 students did not respond.

Since January, Mayor Bloomberg has started new programs to improve education, including hiring and developing quality principals, promoting accountability, providing teachers with the proper tools and support they need, and installing more seats in classrooms. Schools Chancellor Harold Levy is committed to reaching out to parents and making sure "every child has a chance to learn and achieve," Rose says.

Last year, when the law took effect, only 6,400 students requested transfers and 1,500 were moved. Officials did not know how many transfers would be granted as of April, but will likely know by this month. The transfers also depend on available seats in classrooms, as overcrowding could pose a fire hazard.

More than Dollars And a Super Test

Despite some popular beliefs about education, more money and the best test won't solve the challenges in meeting No Child Left Behind legislation, according to Barbara Nadler, CEO of education technology company TIECorp.

"In terms of No Child, one of the things I see happening is ... we're getting caught up in the money," says Nadler. "I think the standards movement has moved in the right direction so people can start to think about focusing. You need to practice what you say you're trying to accomplish."

As examples, she mentions several districts that have children improving in academics after administrators integrated the curricula into state standards, reviewed standardized tests and examined what is measured on such tests. These schools also looked at student report card information and attendance to see how those correlate to achievement. Then district administrators see if their model is meeting expectations.

"It's not about money. It's not about finding the right test," Nadler says. "You've got to be clear to yourself and the public about what it is the kid is expected to know in each of the grade levels."


Small District on Left Coast Still Grappling with Law

In a district 90 miles south of Sacramento, Keyes (Calif.) Union Elementary School District Superintendent Thomas Changnon has a corps of qualified teachers and a plan to notify parents of their choices.

But he, along with other administrators in California's small districts, still meet with state representatives to ensure they are following No Child Left Behind.

"We don't want to get caught" out of compliance, says Changnon. Most of the roughly 50 teachers in his school district come straight from teacher training programs. And they stay in the district, something unusual in small districts where teachers usually leave for more money.

"No Child is causing some concerns," he adds. "The two major issues are the definition of a highly qualified teacher and the ramifications if someone is not highly qualified. And notification to parents."

The district, which includes four charter schools, a K-6 public school and a middle school, has nearly 2,000 students, mainly of Hispanic, Anglo-Saxon and Asian decent. Keyes notifies all parents of teacher qualifications, which meet the law now, and that they have a choice to pull their students from a failing school and put them in another school or another district.

As for the law's performance goals, Changnon says "We probably have over 50 percent of our English language learners in a basic immersion program. There's some concerns because of the diversity of students. We're evaluating where we are now ... If we gain eight points a year, then we'll be" proficient by 2013-14.