Canton Repository

February 12, 2004

Parents like new school law more than the testing requirement

Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — More than two-thirds of parents of schoolchildren support the No Child Left Behind law, but only about one-half favor its accompanying assessment tests, an Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday said.

Just 51 percent of parents surveyed in the national poll supported what were described as “high stakes testing.” Forty-five percent opposed the tests, which are meant to instill accountability in public education.

Under the 2002 federal law, when students fail to pass assessment tests, they may be denied high school diplomas. Schools that fail to demonstrate academic progress on the exams face sanctions including the possibility of restructuring after five years.

No Child Left Behind, the centerpiece of President Bush’s school-reform agenda, requires states to establish academic standards and devise assessments to measure students’ educational progress.

One provision of the law allows students in underperforming schools to transfer to other schools in the same district and have their transportation paid for by the district. More than 200 students in the Canton City Schools have transferred since their schools were deemed “in need of improvement.”

Last month, the Ohio Department of Education released a study estimating the state will spend about $1.5 billion a year to implement the law.

“We don’t receive enough revenue to cover those expenses,” Massillon City School Treasurer Teresa Emmerling said.

Of 699 adults who were surveyed, 68 percent supported the law in general, while 22 percent were opposed. The survey was conducted Jan. 22 to Feb. 1, and is considered accurate within 4 percentage points.

“This survey makes it clear that concerns about No Child Left Behind go up the closer it gets to the homes of parents and the schools attended by their children,” said Pam Solo, president of the Civil Society Institute, which commissioned the poll. The institute, a nonprofit group based in Newton, Mass., opposes the No Child Left Behind law.