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South Dakota Leaves No Child Left Behind

October 16, 2011, 10:05 PM by Derek Olson

South Dakota Leaves No Child Left Behind
RAPID CITY, SD - On September 23, President Obama announced that states would be able to apply for a waiver, allowing them to withdraw from the No Child Left Behind program. 

The South Dakota Department of Education took the president up on his offer.  Now a task force will decide what's next.

"This is not about not holding public schools accountable," Mitchell said.

Dr. Timothy Mitchell is the Superintendent of the Rapid City School District, and part of of the group creating NCLB's replacement.  He says that the current program can unfairly punish schools who make huge improvements, but still fall below national standards.

"We see these schools from our lens as being very successful. No Child Left Behind, the way it's set up, sees them as schools in need of improvement and slaps them with sanctions," Mitchell said.

The task force plans on assessing the progress of each child throughout the year, so that changes can be made based on the student's needs.

"Instead of comparing apples to oranges, like last years third graders to this year's third graders to next year's third graders, which are all different groups of students, let's take a look at the same group of students over time," Mitchell said.

That is something that Dan Janklow did we he took over as principal at Rapid City's underperforming Horace Mann Elementary School two years ago. The school was close to being shut down. Now, it's a distinguished school.

"We graph out what are their learning targets. And over the sequence of the year we're able to show the growth that they're making. Then we basically annotate all the steps that weve done with that child so we have kind of a personalized learning plan for every child," Janklow said.

That way if a student falls behind in a subject they can be given the special attention they need to get caught up.

"It's a significant amount of work, but the dedication level of the staff inside of this building is something to which I've never seen before," Janklow said.

It's examples like this that this task force hopes to duplicate in the new program.

The task force will submit their plan to the Federal government in February.

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