Tom Walker, WTHR-13 Indianapolis, Mar. 22
Washington D.C. — No where has the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act been a bigger question mark than in America’s inner cities.
But the group that represents many of those school systems has found they have made progress in the last year, in some cases more than their suburban neighbors.
Indianapolis school board member Kelly Bentley says it’s forced them to work harder to help kids who need it most. “Now we’re focusing on African-Americans, limited English proficient, special ed students.”
The report says different strategies have worked in different cities. In several it has been all-day kindergarten.
Carlos Garcia, the school chief in Las Vegas, says it is now his system’s top priority. He’s throwing all the money he can in it next year “because the research clearly demonstrates that students that have full day kindergarten actually outperform our other students.”
But the findings also point to continuing gaps between whites and minorities. In Indianapolis it is widening in the upper grades.
For instance, in 2002 the number of Hispanics meeting progress test standards in the tenth grade was 19 percent lower than whites. A year later it’s 36 percent lower.
It’s a big problem for big cities with diverse populations, even those making progress, say school officials like Bentley. “I don’t want it to be a case that urban districts are going to be, because of that diversity, are going to be viewed as failing.”
She and a lot of other school officials are very concerned that the level of improvement required under the law is simply unrealistic for some groups of students. One reason the feds have begun scaling back those requirements in the face of an election year storm of criticism.