COLUMBIA — Columbia elementary students, with a few exceptions, will no longer be allowed to transfer to different schools as they once were under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Earlier this summer, Missouri was granted a waiver from the law. This changes the requirement that Columbia Public Schools provide busing for students who transferred under the law.
Previously, students could transfer if the school they attended did not meet national test-score benchmarks. They were allowed to transfer to a school that did meet the mandated progress levels if that school had room.
Now, since Missouri, along with more than half the country, has had the law’s mandates waived, students will have to stay at their assigned schools.
According to data from the office of Peter Stiepleman, assistant superintendent of elementary education, 137 No Child transfers were approved in 2009-10, 52 in 2010-11 and 57 in 2011-12.
In general, the district is allowing fewer transfers of any kind. A few exceptions exist:
- Students will have their transfer requests approved on the basis of sibling accommodation. This means the district tries to keep family members together, Stiepleman said.
- Students with parents who work for the schools can transfer to the school at which the parent is a staff member.
- Students who transferred schools before the waiver can stay at that building, but the district will no longer provide transportation to those schools. Parents will have to find rides for their children. Stiepleman said that because of a budgetary shortfall, the district had to choose between providing buses for those children or maintaining federal Title I programs and personnel.
"The choice was quite clear," he said.
Stiepleman said he thinks the No Child act served an important function but also set up schools for failure.
On one hand, the law made schools accountable for every student, especially minority and low-income students. However, it defined student growth in terms of an "arbitrary" test score, Stiepleman said, and not in terms of how a student actually grows.
"We need something different," he said.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.