Best teachers should take on neediest kids
More Hawaii public schools have failed to meet goals for progress.
Public education officials consistently explain that some schools fail to reach scholastic goals partly because of the lower test scores of small groups of students who have trouble learning.
That is evident in the results of the 2007-08 Hawaii State Assessment exams showing that while an increased percentage of students did adequately, more schools failed to meet benchmarks that were raised this year.
However, the intent of the federal education law is reflected in its title. While the No Child Left Behind act's objective of having every public school student proficient at grade-level reading and math is, in truth, an impossible aspiration, its aim is to elevate education, especially for children who struggle to learn.
It is essential that Hawaii public schools put extra effort in reaching students who have traditionally been recognized as "at risk" -- those from low-income families, or who lack English language skills or have special needs.
In addition, schools should better evaluate teachers. Just as students have varying skill levels, so, too, do teachers. The best educators should be assigned to classes for children who have the most difficulties.
If labor contract provisions stand in the way, teachers should be willing to set them aside because if education in Hawaii and the nation continues to stagnate, advances necessary for economic and social health will likewise decline.
A total of 170 of 283 public schools fell short of targets compared to 98 schools last year, even though 62 percent of students tested scored proficient in reading, a 2 percent increase; and 43 percent in math, four points higher than in 2006-07. But to get passing marks, at least 58 percent of students in each school had to reach grade-level proficiency in reading and 46 percent in math.
While the law is seen as punishing the majority for the failure of a smaller group, its constructive objective is to offer opportunity to all, including the disadvantaged, and if their scores count heavily, school systems cannot leave them behind as they previously were.
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