No Child Left Behind Law Faces Its Own Reckoning

Mar 25, 2015

Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times

By Motoko Rich and Tamar Lewin

Ginn Academy, the first and only public high school in Ohio just for boys, was conceived to help at-risk students make it through school — experimenting with small classes, a tough discipline code and life coaches around the clock.

Its graduation rate was close to 88 percent last year, compared with 64 percent for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as a whole. And it has enjoyed some other victories. There is the junior whose test scores are weak but who regularly volunteers at a food bank. And the senior proudly set to graduate this spring who used to attend school so irregularly that he had to be collected at home each morning by a staff member.

But under No Child Left Behind, the signature education initiative of the George W. Bush administration, the academy, which opened in 2007, was consistently labeled low performing because it did not make the required “adequate yearly progress” in raising test scores.

Nicholas A. Petty, the principal, said, “I wouldn’t say stop making us be judged by the tests at all, but get a better system that really monitors students on more of an individual basis.”

As Congress debates a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, Mr. Petty may well see that happen.

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