As news reports have documented the progress -- or the lack of it -- under the federal No Child Left Behind mandate, they have consistently focused on "failing schools" or "schools that didn't reach annual yearly progress goals."
That's what NCLB is supposed to do: identify schools that aren't adequately teaching students and put in motion remedies to increase the likelihood that all students will receive a sound education.
But now that schools across the nation have had some experience with NCLB, there is ample evidence to suggest that, in addition to poorly performing schools -- mostly in urban districts fraught with social and economic problems -- there are also a large number of poorly performing students -- youngsters who, for any number of reasons, don't do well on test scores that measure NCLB results.
The fact that two of the Cape Girardeau School District's elementary schools, Blanchard and Jefferson, failed to meet NCLB goals is less likely the fault of the teachers at those schools than the efforts of some students. But standards are standards, and students at both schools were offered opportunities to transfer to the three other Cape Girardeau elementary schools.
When the transfer deadline passed earlier this month, only 11 students asked to go to other schools. That small number says something for the teachers and administrators at Blanchard and Jefferson, who are working just as hard to provide a first-rate education as those at any other school.