A t least 25 Oregon schools whose students are behind in reading and math have turned down federal aid intended to help those students learn more, an analysis by The Oregonian has found.
Not taking the money — typically $200,000 a year — allows a school to dodge consequences and pressure to improve brought by the federal No Child Left Behind law.
As a result, students in those schools don’t get free tutoring and don’t have the extra teachers and teacher training that federal money would buy. Parents don’t get letters notifying them of their school’s achievement problems and plans to improve, and students lose the opportunity to transfer to a better-performing school.
“Why would they turn down the money? It’s not like we don’t need the tutoring,” says Madison junior Betelehem Shenbulo. She would have failed algebra II last year without the help of a tutor paid with federal funds, the 16-year-old says.
“I have seen people struggle this year, really struggle, but tutoring is not available anymore,” she says. “We should still have it.”
Under No Child Left Behind, any school receiving federal funds to help disadvantaged students that misses academic performance targets two years in a row is put on a federal must-improve list.
Nationwide, more than 2,500 schools — including 80 in Oregon — have been put on the federal list. They face consequences if they don’t improve.