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District Shows Gains, Despite Fiscal Constraints

The massive state funding cuts that hit Oregon schools in 2003 hampered progress in meeting NCLB requirements. But districts like Tigard-Tualatin are making gains in reading and hope to better serve the district's subgroups. Included: An outline of the district's literacy program.

Just as Oregon was starting to implement the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, along came devastating state budget cuts for schools in the spring of 2003. Newspaper headlines across the U.S. trumpeted one of the solutions to the financial crisis that faced public schools in Oregon; reducing the number of school days in the year.

The Tigard-Tualatin School District cut five days in 2002-03, and the district also increased class size in all classrooms by as many as five students, from 20 to 25 at the elementary level and from 25 to 29 at the secondary level. To make these reductions, the district laid off 40 teachers. Many excellent teachers were lost to the district, including veteran teachers who retired in the face of changes to their retirement system, and more recent hires who had limited teaching experience.

Reductions were also made in other budgets, from professional development to textbooks and supplies. Tigard-Tualatin is likely to face challenges in continuing to meet NCLB academic goals.


Still, Tigard-Tualatin has made gains in meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP). The district has made a major investment in literacy and reading in the early grades, in an effort to assure adequate yearly progress for all children at all grade levels and all schools. With a grant from the U. S. Department of Education and the University of Oregon, the district is putting in place a long-range training program for all elementary teachers that focuses on literacy skill identification and individualized interventions for students below grade level. Major areas of focus include teaching teachers how to use the student assessment/instruction data base, aligning curriculum with assessments and instruction across grade levels, and tracking the progress of low-achieving students through the grade levels.

Consistent with NCLB goals, Oregon's plan for NCLB calls on schools to make steady progress each year until 100 percent of students meet the state proficiency targets by 2014. A major focus of the district is on preventing reading problems for children through early intervention and close teacher monitoring of student progress. The goal is for teachers to quickly correct any deficits children have so they will be able to catch up with their peers.

Assessment teams in the Tigard-Tualatin district provide intensive progress checks for all students three times a year, in the fall, mid-winter, and spring. These teams, led by an early literacy specialist, analyze the assessment data and make recommendations for immediate interventions that classroom teachers can provide in the classroom or an afterschool setting.


Academic achievement generally exceeds state averages, although the performance of elementary students is consistently stronger than that of secondary students. All Title I schools in the district met AYP in the 2003 test administration. However, both of the district's high schools and two of the middle schools did not meet AYP, but these are not Title I schools.

With test scores in Oregon now disaggregated by poverty and racial-ethnic groups, this high-achieving district has seen great differences among the achievement of poor children, students with disabilities, English language learners, and some racial/ethnic groups. English language earners and students with disabilities were the subgroups that failed to make AYP in the two middle schools and two high schools. The district's enrollment of English language learners is about 1,400 students, and their primary languages are Spanish (1,097 speak Spanish), Marshallese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese.

To help secondary students meet NCLB's rigorous academic requirements, the Tigard- Tualatin district is planning to create small learning communities in its secondary schools. This program is aimed at making the schools more personal for ninth grade students with "houses," mentoring programs, quick responses to behavior issues, and ongoing monitoring of academic progress.

SOURCE: Center on Education Policy

To read the full report, see A Look Inside 33 School Districts: Year 2 of the No Child Left Behind Act.

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Education World's Working With NCLB feature highlights schools or districts with stories to share about how they are implementing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. If you have a Working With NCLB story to share, send an e-mail toEllen Delisio.