Friday, May 23, 2008

More schools to face law's consequences

May 20, 6:26 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pink slips for principals and teachers. School-funded tutoring for poor kids. Schools are increasingly looking at those kind of consequences for failing to raise math and reading scores.

The federal No Child Left Behind law says that by the 2013-14 school year all students must pass state tests in these subjects.

About half of the states have steady annual goals for increasing the percentage of students passing, or working at their proper grade level. But the other half set the bar very low early on, and starting about now expect big annual achievement gains, according to a report being released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy.

Educators liken the latter strategy to a balloon payment mortgage, in which home owners have a final payment that is much larger than previous ones.

It's unlikely that states that took that approach can make the kind of gains expected, said Jack Jennings, the center's president.

Schools that don't hit testing benchmarks for two years or longer face consequences that become increasingly stiff each year - from having to transport children to higher-performing schools and paying for tutoring to replacing staff thought to be a part of a school's problems.

Nearly 11,000 schools, or a little more than 10 percent of all public schools - from elementary to high school - have missed their state-set progress goals and are taking corrective steps, according to the Education Department.

That number has been rising slowly and is expected to grow at a faster clip over the next few years.

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