The ABCs of No Child Left Behind

If you learn that your school is a In Need of Improvement under No Child Left Behind, don't panic. Because the federal law requires all students test at proficient or better by 2014, and that all schools show improvement each year, more and more schools in NH and around the country are finding themselves in the category of “School In Need of Improvement” (a.k.a. “SINI”). Here’s what you can do.
A To find out if your school is a School In Need of Improvement (SINI), go to this website:
tinyurl.com/NH-SINI-2011, then click on either the Acrobat or Word file icon under “Final AYP Status” to download the file (note: “AYP” stands for “Adequate Yearly Progress” on state testing). Then open the file and find your school’s name in the list and look for the columns titled “2011 Reading SINI” and “2011 Math SINI” (blue columns below). The numbers shown in those columns indicate how many years the school has been a SINI for those subjects (see blue column, below). A “zero” in a column indicates the school is not a SINI for that subject.
The yellow column indicates whether the school made Adequate yearly progress for the school
year ending June 2011, while the green columns shows the results for the previous year.

NCLB Image

B If your school is in need of improvement, talk to your school principal or other administrator to find out why and to inquire about the school's proposed solutions:

  • Inquire about school improvement plans to address areas of need
  • Inquire about ways you can help your student do better on the state testing.
  • Consult with your child's teacher(s) to learn more about your child's academic progress and what you can do to help.
  • Inquire about options for taking advantage of available Supplemental Educational Services (SES) (starting with year 2 of Improvement), 21st Century Community Learning Centers (see www.nhpirc.org/21stcentury.shtml), peer tutoring, etc.
    • Inquire about how you can be involved in the school improvement efforts, for example by:
      • Being a parent representative on a committee to review and help implement improvement plans, the written parent involvement policy/plan/guidelines, the school-parent compact, etc.
      • Getting involved with your school's parent-teacher group such as the PTA or PTO, and specifically supporting their efforts to respond to school improvement needs
      • Receiving training to deliver parent support workshops specific to the subject(s) and grade level(s) where the school is in need of improvement (call NH State PIRC for more information about this option).
      • Running for or participating in your local school board, especially regarding decisions that may be affecting academic achievement (for example, class size or other funding `issues)

 

C If after following the steps above, you do not feel confident that the members of your school community are doing everything they can to address the gaps in academic performance, AND if you feel that as a result your own child's academic performance at the school may suffer, you may want to consider transferring your child to another school in the district, as long as that school is not also a SINI. Before doing so, consider carefully the various consequences of such a move, including:

  • the additional length of time your child will need to be on a bus
  • the social and emotional impact on your child of the loss of his or her teacher(s), reduced contact with friends, etc., and
  • the possible effects of the move on his or her academic performance, including the possibility that the new school will be using a different curriculum and/or be working at a different level with the subject matter.

NH State PIRC recommends that parents first work with your child(ren) to help him/her with test preparation and confidence building, then work in a proactive, positive, and helpful manner with your school's teachers and administrators to address gaps in achievement on state testing by whichever students are needing the most support. If all other options have been exhausted and you feel strongly that the benefits of sending your child to another school outweighs the drawbacks, then you should consider the public school choice option.
Parents Make the Difference: When the federal government adopted No Child Left Behind, it recognized the power of parents and wrote them into the plan. Parents know their children best, can often encourage them to be their best, and can bring additional experience and support into the school to help make sure all students can reach their maximum potential. If you learn that your school is a SINI, find out how your child and/or other students need to raise test scores and do whatever you can to contribute to the success of your school. After
all, it takes a village to raise a child... and it just may take your help as an involved parent to help the students in your community to reach the worthy and ambitious goals of No Child Left Behind.

For more information, please see www.nhpirc.org/NCLB and www.education.nh.gov/instruction/accountability/

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