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posted: 8/11/2011 5:45 AM

District 200 officials blast No Child after parents opt to switch schools

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  • District 200 Superintendent Brian Harris says the federal government needs to move faster to update the No Child Left Behind Law.

      District 200 Superintendent Brian Harris says the federal government needs to move faster to update the No Child Left Behind Law.
    TANIT JARUSAN | Staff Photographer


Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 officials blasted No Child Left Behind on Wednesday after Superintendent Brian Harris announced that 28 students at a school that is "in need of improvement" under the controversial law will switch schools for the upcoming school year.

For the second straight year, Johnson Elementary School in Warrenville did not meet academic goals set forth by the law, which was passed in 2002.

That put it in a category that requires the district to offer transfer choices for students at the school. The 28 students will attend either Bower Elementary School in Warrenville or Wiesbrook Elementary School in Wheaton.

Harris said that unless the law changes before next fall, current trends indicate that the district will essentially face "open enrollment" next year.

"It's extremely frustrating that the federal government continues to drag this along," he said. "We certainly want to meet the needs of the kids and those challenges continue to be in front of us. But it's an unintended consequence of this legislation passed in 2002."

The law has come under fire by school boards in recent years as it established academic thresholds some have called unrealistic. For this school year, at least 85 percent of students in a school had to meet or exceed standards in math and reading tests.

That number was up from the 77.5 percent requirement last year and will rise to 100 percent for the 2013-2014 school year.

The thresholds must be met across all student subgroups and a handful of them at Johnson did not. That meant the school district had to offer school choice and parents of 28 students took the offer.

Of the 28 students, only two did not reach sufficient math and reading scores. The school district must provide busing for those students and board member Andy Johnson said those resources could have been better used elsewhere.

"It is a shame that 26 kids are taking resources for all of those students who were not making AYP for whatever reason," board member Andy Johnson said. "It's a shame that the situation is set up like that."

Harris briefly offered praise for the law but said some of its ramifications will hurt school districts.

"It has raised the bar of the importance of paying attention," he said. "But the consequences and penalties are ridiculous."