Correction to This Article
A map accompanying a March 12 Outlook article on Washington area schools identified as being "in need of improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act incorrectly included Ideal Academy, an elementary charter school in the District at 33 Riggs Rd. NE. The school that should have been shown on the map is IDEA Public Charter High School at 1027 45th St. NE.

Why Is Your School On This List?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Reginald Ballard

Cardozo High School, Northwest Washington

We are a "needs improvement" school. In 2004-2005, we did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in both reading and math. We are trying to avoid moving to the next step, "corrective action," which has an even more negative connotation to it.

There is nothing positive I can say about No Child Left Behind. We were one of the schools that did make AYP at the beginning, so we were a school that kids from other schools could transfer to. But that was almost like a Catch-22. If you get that designation, they send you kids with low test scores, which helps bring you down further. Almost all the schools that originally made AYP have now moved down to "needs improvement."

One of the things we are trying hard to do is make sure we teach the standards that are required on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System test. I am not saying we are teaching to the test. We don't know what it's going to look like, but we are teaching those standards that will be on it.

I am having my teachers develop plans to determine the skills that the students who were close to receiving satisfactory scores need to improve. I have teachers doing lesson plans on those skills, and they have to tell me where their students are after each assessment, and how they are going to move them to the next level.

I have been at Cardozo 11 years, and we have had many successes, with our AP program growing and many students going to college and succeeding. This is the best job I have ever had in my life, to come to work with these kids and this staff.

Rodney Henderson

Kenmoor Elementary School, Landover

The first time we did not meet the AYP standards two years ago, we had been told several months before that we had. Then I got the dreaded call from the head of our school improvement department informing me of "some bad news." We had not made AYP in attendance. The attendance standard was 93.9 percent and the school only made 93.1 percent for the year.

Our school is in an area of extremely high transience. Sometimes families fail to notify us that they are moving, and it takes several weeks to discover this fact. In the meantime, we get charged for those absent days.

Last year we made AYP in every category but special ed mathematics. We missed it by 0.3 percentage points, and I was sick about that for a long time. We only have 20 special ed students, but their disabilities cover a broad range. Some of these students fall several years behind grade level in reading, for example, and yet they are required to take the test at their grade level. This is the mandate for all students in the school no matter what their abilities. Once you miss AYP, you have two years to get off the list. If you make AYP the second year, but then fail the subsequent year, you stay on the list.

Going back to the drawing board is all you can do. We have been doing so much preparation for the upcoming Maryland State Assessment (MSA). We've had dress rehearsals all year; we had the last one last Monday. Before, the kids were intimidated by the test, but now they are ready.

There's no question that NCLB has benefited schools in many areas. But why do some schools continually miss AYP while others continually make it?

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