OXFORD — Superintendent Rick Colpitts said Tuesday that he and other school officials believe some education laws, such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, need to be modified to achieve greater student success.

“We want all kids to achieve but we’re finding some of the rules are very difficult for school districts to attain,” he said.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 supports standards-based education reform and requires all students to meet state-established academic standards. Students in certain grades are tested each year in basic skills. The law requires that all students, regardless of learning abilities, must be 100 percent proficient in the standards by 2014.

While educators have said the goal is worthy, how it is reached is debatable.

“The federal law seems to dictate how children learn because the money is tied to conditions,” Colpitts said.

Although the federal dollars that come into the school district amount to about 10 percent of the district’s budget, that amount dictates about 90 percent of where the school allocates its money be spent, Colpitts said. It affects everything from professional development to teacher certification, he said.

“It’s a disproportionate influence,” Colpitts said of the federal dollars that will come to the school district.

Colpitts said local educators made several suggestions about how to make the law more workable to a group of Oxford Hills state and federal legislators at an early morning breakfast Friday at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

Colpitts said they have recommended to the legislators that learning targets and testing methods that measure student achievement be stabilized so they don’t constantly change.

“Set a target and let us stick with it,” Colpitts said. Curriculum Director Kathy Elkins has said tests have changed five times in the past 10 years, he said.

Colpitts said they also want to see a model where students must annually show at least one year’s academic growth rather than what he called an “unachievable” goal of all students meeting state achievement standards within the next two years.

“The assumption that all students will meet all standards we feel is not achievable,” Colpitts said.

Those students receiving special needs services who are currently being serviced under an individual education plan, should be required to meet the standards set in that plan only, he said.

Colpitts said they have also recommended that the tutorial requirement, which currently allots some $170,000 a year in Title 1 funding to tutoring only certain Oxford Hills School District students, be eliminated. He said the school district has to hire tutors from a government list of providers who are not necessarily aligning their instruction with state standards.

Colpitts said the legislative breakfast was a great opportunity for local educators to express their concerns.

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