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What we think: Opportunity for our schools

School systems across the country are struggling with No Child Left Behind, and this area is no exception. Kannapolis City Schools did not make adequate yearly progress in 2005-06, but they came close — and that’s the good news. The Cabarrus and Rowan-Salisbury schools are among 20 systems in the state under “corrective action.” Rowan-Salisbury has been missing targets a little longer, so its leaders were summoned to a meeting recently to learn that a state assistance team is on its way to figure out what the schools should be doing differently.

The public struggles with interpreting all this education jargon. Are our schools good or not?

To be honest, you’d have to answer the question with a question: Good at what? No Child Left Behind focuses on making sure students even in the most challenged or disadvantaged groups make progress from year to year, and very few schools are doing a good job of that. Only three systems in the entire state made adequate yearly progress for 2005-06: Tyrrell, Wautauga and Washington counties. Locally, 10 of Cabarrus’ 28 schools and 10 of Rowan-Salisbury’s 31 schools made AYP.

Good things are going on in many classrooms across the two counties. We’re producing scholars and productive citizens. But just as students have to successfully complete certain tasks to receive good grades, school systems have to reach certain goals to pass muster with state and federal education officials. Rowan and Cabarrus have work to do.

This actually could be a great opportunity. The schools can’t get out of this by dotting i’s and crossing t’s more carefully on state reports; a culture shift could be in order. Considering the importance of education quality, this is a time when the community should rally around the schools and make a sincere effort to encourage change. What can we, as a group and as individuals, do to help?

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