Academic Achievement

By Michael Strand
Critics with a bent for sarcasm, for years, have derided the No Child Left Behind law by giving it what they think is a more descriptive title.
No Child Allowed Ahead, they call it.
And it’s not hard to see why. Newspapers and news magazines across the country have documented state after state and district after district gutting or eliminating millions of dollars in funding for programs for their highest-achieving students, diverting that money into programs for low-achieving students in order to meet the mandates of the law.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a tremendous change in our district, for which I’m grateful,” said Salina School Board president Carol Brandert, who later described the situation as “fortunate.”
If Brandert — a former English teacher well-known for being a stickler for using the right word — is using words that sound oddly passive, there’s a reason.
The question of cutting programs for top students has never come up, she said.
When Kay Scheibler first started heading the gifted program at Salina Central High School, 13 states mandated programs for top students. Today, Kansas is the only state with such a mandate.
“It’s mandated, so we’re not going to see any major changes without some legislative action,” she said.
“We’re unique, one out of 50,” confirmed Kansas Commissioner of Education Alexa Posny.
State law regarding those formally identified by their school as gifted closely parallels that for special education students, even using the same terminology — gifted students have an “Individual Education Plan.”