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"No Child Left Behind Law" an Added Burden for Cash Strapped Schools

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 By David Law/Eric Mack, Contact
April 18, 2007

The state's largest teacher organization is worried that South Dakota schools, already hard pressed for cash, will face an added financial burden when the No Child Left Behind law is reauthorized. Donna DeKraai with the South Dakota Education Association says the law has been a financial drag for the state and local school districts, who are trying to stay compliant at a time when education finances are drying up.

"It has never been funded correctly, and every year that it has been in place, there's been less money with No Child Left Behind."

It takes more money to accommodate class size reduction and to help rural school teachers, those teaching multiple subjects and special education instructors to become highly qualified. DeKraai points out that many South Dakota schools are already in financial crisis.

"Our school districts are going to see about a 2.5 percent increase over last year. That is not even the cost of living for what we're dealing with, just the provisions that we have to provide for in our state. If we're asked to do other things at the federal level that's just going to tax us more as to where we're going to find the funds.

DeKraai adds that, in addition to fixing the funding problem, there's a problem with measuring effectiveness. She believes standardized testing once a year doesn't accurately reflect what a child knows.

"We would like to see states be able to develop a research based accountability formula or a matrix that considers multiple measures. We'd also like to see the ability to place an accountability system that has additional measures beyond one test. We could use a portfolio or performance assessment on our students."

Currently a school can be severely penalized for not implementing the law successfully, DeKraai says it would be more effective to reward success, and move away from labeling and punishing struggling schools.

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