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Managing Resources in a Small District

Some educators and community members in the one-school Marlboro (Vermont) School District are dismayed with NCLB's testing requirements, and say test results are not a good picture of learning if you only have a handful of students in a class. Included: One district's approach to assessment.

A one-school K-8 district in rural Vermont, the Marlboro School District is struggling to implement the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act's requirements for additional testing. The principal, staff, and board members of Marlboro believe that the district's well-established accountability system has served its students well.

The district has invested much time and energy in implementing a state math and writing portfolio assessment, which these officials believe is instructionally sound. Students in grades 4 and 8 take state standard-based tests in math and reading. In addition, all second graders take a developmental reading assessment, and fifth graders take a state science assessment. These indicators have provided valuable feedback to staff about student skills and capabilities.

A few years ago, the district only had 78 students in K-8, so classes were very small.


Serving students with special needs is challenging for a small district. Although there are only a few English language learners (ELL's) in the school, the needs of these students are very different. They vary in their countries of origin, the languages they speak, their cultural background, the time they have been in the U.S., and their grade levels, which range from grades 1 to 7.

Some assistance is available for these students through tutors, but essentially, instruction is provided through an inclusion model. An inclusion model is also used for students with disabilities, a larger group than ELL's.

It is not clear yet whether there are enough students with disabilities to constitute a subgroup under the state system. The students in this group also have very diverse needs, in terms of the type of their disability, intellectual capacity, need for individualized instruction, and age. For these reasons, district staff is finding it very difficult to have the same expectations for all the students.

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.

Share Your NCLB Strategies

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.