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Ensuring Achievement for All Students

For a small, rural district, Cuero (Texas) Independent School District has posted impressive results for all its students, even those in major subgroups. The next challenge is ensuring that students with disabilities get the services they need. Included: How a small district got big results.

The small, rural Cuero (Texas) Independent School District so far has been exceeding state averages for academic achievement, even among its subgroups. Few significant achievement gaps exist among the major subgroups.

District staff members attribute Cuero's strong showing to extensive, structured professional development for teachers and staff. The district also strongly emphasizes reading and math across the grades. The curriculum is aligned to state standards and the state accountability system. In addition, all students in grades 1, 3, and 5, as well as grades 8 through 12, are scheduled for in-depth conferences with a counselor and their parents to make sure that academic learning is on track and that every student is appropriately challenged. If needed, a plan is designed to help the student "catch up" in any weak areas. Teachers and counselors focus on improvement goals and needed follow-up for every student.

A preschool program the district operates, funded partly through Title I, includes an early literacy learning program and an extensive Even Start program. Activities for parents include training in how to help their children learn. A tutoring bus filled with laptop computers serves parents and children who live in low-income housing areas in distant neighborhoods.


Even with all this progress, staff members expect to face a challenge raising the academic performance of students with disabilities to meet the adequate yearly progress (AYP) criteria. The number of these students in the district is high, because Cuero provides special education services for children in neighboring districts.

District staff member recognize that some special education students may need additional attention in the future, but because many of these children are bused long distances to school, it is difficult for them to attend additional classes after school. Some students live as far as 50 miles away from their school, which is a long bus ride twice a day.

The curriculum for students with disabilities must be continually aligned with standards to ensure that learning goes beyond test-taking. Alternative assessments are given in grades 3-8 for students who qualify, and high school students have a district improvement process that reviews their abilities and achievement.

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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