Bush OKs Missouri's 'No Child Left Behind' plan

Thursday, May 1, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Missouri education commissioner Kent King was at the White House Wednesday as President Bush approved the state's accountability plan under the No Child Left Behind law.

The plan directs Missouri officials to develop and begin testing, in grades that haven't already begun testing, as a way to identify schools where students fall short of yearly targets for progress.

It means there will be more scrutiny within individual schools and groups of children, rather than a broad look across an entire district, King said.

"It's going to make it significantly tougher, and frankly, that's probably the brightest part of this bill and the part that I think does the most," King said. "It shines a spotlight on different groups of kids."

The attention, as called for in the plan, will be similar to that given the rural Niangua School District in southwest Missouri's Webster County, which the state stripped of its accreditation last year. Another district, Wellston in St. Louis County, will lose its accreditation on June 30.

"Really, that's the kind of thing this act requires that we do for all schools that are not meeting adequate yearly progress," King said.

Undersecretary of Education Gene Hickock said Americans are being asked to raise their expectations of school performance.

"The goal here is to get rid of achievement gaps," Hickock said.

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., applauded the news, saying: "Accountability is critical to Missouri efforts to improve student achievement."

Missouri joined Arkansas and Washington in bringing to 16 the number of states whose accountability plans have received Bush administration approval.

The Show-Me state had already developed and begun giving tests in reading, language arts and math in elementary, middle and high school. Missouri's plan calls for proficiency in reading and math by the 2014 school year, as ordered under the No Child Left Behind law.

The state will allow students in Title I schools that show no improvement to transfer to higher-performing schools and receive supplemental education services. Title I schools are those with a higher percentage of disadvantaged students; they receive a greater level of federal funding.

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On the Net

  • Education Department: www.ed.gov/

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