No Child Left Behind: Football

I think the NCLB act is awful. But your “solution” for talented students is worse. upping grade levels only works so far. In fourth grade I was reading on a college level, learning trigonometry and chemistry from my father, and publishing my poetry. I could have easily been satisfied with a high school curriculum. But I was still a nine year old girl, with no business around 16-18 year olds. Social interaction has to happen sometime.

My school’s solution was your “peer tutoring”, otherwise known as I sat around and exaplined, again, to my LD classmates what addition was. Or I read sci-fi in a corner. Or I taught small groups of kids who them hated me because I had to give them assignments. Peer tutoring doesn’t give a deeper understanding if you already understand the material. Peer tutoring works if you ‘kinda get it’ and you can work through it while teaching someone else. Who, hopefully, also ‘kinda gets it’. There is a point at which the advanced student cannot gain anything. That’s not education, that’s unpaid labor.

The best solution to talented children is gasp gifted and talented education! NOT forcing them to hobble themselves to a standard. For flavor’s sake, I spent grades 2-6 in a school with no G&T program, I peer-tutored, I self taught, I did all the other bullshit. I also tried to kill myself about every 18 months. for some odd reason, when I moved to a school with a G&T program, my depression and isolation magically disapeared. I became highly social and happily dynamic.

Trying to standardize education only works for the center of the bell curve. The kids on the sides, both above and below, are not well served by a standard plate for learning. Both ends of the bell curve require special attention, and will suffer, in some cases horribly, when they are refused it.

What I’d like to hear from the NEA is a genuine counterproposal, though, not one that just criticizes NCLB.

NCLB was drafted in response to genuine educational shortcomings in this country. I’m Republican, and I have big problems with it. But it’s an effort.

The NEA, and their lapdogs in the Democratic Party, meanwhile, aren’t offering anything else. They just attack NCLB and trot out the old tired nostrums of reduced class size and more educational funding.

Reduced class size is a teacher jobs program. If the teacher turns out to be a bad one, the fact that there are fewer than twenty kids in the classroom won’t matter much.

And more educational funding, without a coherent plan for how the dollars need to be allocated, is part of what got us into this mess to begin with.

I agree, there are problems. I’m inclined to think they’ll be worked out administratively or through legislative change. But anybody who wants to be taken seriously as an educational leader in this country had better put up his own plan, instead of just carping about the plans in place.

You are, of course, quite right. The solution to ignorance is education, and the better the education, and the more closely tailored it is to the student’s needs, the better educated (and better socialized) any given student will be. Stands to reason.

But education costs money.

And education alone never got any politicians elected.

And like it or not, the function of education is no longer simply to get our children educated.

Its primary function is political, now.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

In response to Mr. Moto:

I don’t know a lot about the NEA, so I won’t pretend to speak for them. However, I do know that there is a sort of grassroots movement among educators to make some effective changes. We know, for instance, about “best practices” - this is a collection of teaching methods with proven results. Put best practices into operation and students make progress. Unfortunately, NCLB pretty much prevents the effective implementation of best practices, because the two ideas can’t peacefully co-exist on the NCLB timeline. Here’s some info:

Interestingly, NCLB may ultimately have some good results - when it fails. Some of the most successful schools in the nation are schools for which the regular order of business did not work. Many charters have been founded on the basis of “we have nothing more to lose, so let’s try a whole new approach.”

Also - under NCLB, class sizes are increased. This is not true in all cases, but it is true in general. To take your argument and reverse it, it doesn’t matter if a teacher is an outstanding educator; give him 35 kids to cope with at once and he’s going to lose soem ground there.

Re: teachers’ unions - one must remember that a teachers’ union is first and foremost a labor organization, not an educational organization. Like any labor union, its goals are to insure that its members are protected in the workplace.

Horse pucky. The fewer kids a teacher has to deal with, the more effectively that teacher can teach, assess the students’ knowledge, and focus on their weak points. It’s a fact, jack.

Admittedly, we could take this to an extreme and hire a teacher for every pupil in the country. That WOULD be a teacher jobs program. But you have to admit they’d be VERY well educated pupils.

As a teacher, I can tell you that when a class gets up towards thirty kids, most teachers have their hands full. As a special ed teacher, I can tell you that twenty is about the most I’d ever want to deal with at once, unless you gave me a trank rifle.

And if the teacher is a good one, his/her effectiveness is blunted or downright eliminated by overloading his/her classroom.

Isn’t there a NCLB clause that says all schools have to have above-average test scores every year, or else they lose their funding? If so, I pit that for being mathematically impossible.

Sorry, I wasn’t aware that the nea is a union.

(sighs deeply)

(holds breath, counts to ten)

Unions. Professional organizations. Whatever. Not talking about them. Talking about NCLB, and about teachers. With occasional asides to cover idiot and/or opportunistic politicians.

That’s all.

It’s as much of one as the UMW.

They politically lobby and have district-level ‘locals’ that file grievances, negotiate contracts, and strike when they can’t resolve disputes.

I teach social studies in one of the best of the inner city schools in my area. At the begining of my classes I usually do a current event thing that is usually just asking them what they have seen on the news for participation points.

The other day one of my students answered the question with “My brother was on the news”

Someone asked her why. She said, " They say he murdered his girlfriend, but he didn’t."

There another kid that sits a couple seats down from her who is homeless. He is 14 years old and has no where to live other than shelters. I have watched this kid get angrier and angrier throughout the semester, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. He comes to school when he can, but he isn’t learning anything. Funny thing about this kid is that he tests proficient and above, but because he only comes to school a couple times a week, he is going to do 9th grade again, provided he doesn’t just dissapear altogether.

I have three kids on my roster I have never actually seen. I have no idea who they are, and one I have seen once.

There are at least four different native languages in any of my classes, usualy English (and assorted dialects), Spanish, Serbian and Hmong. We also have sprinklings of Arabic, Croat, and Thai. Some are doing well and are driven. Some are not.

The thing is that the playing field is not even. It wasn’t even the day alot of these kids were born, and testing doesn’t begin to solve it. It doesnt solve it for one of my 10th graders who had a baby this summer, but the baby died. It doesn’t solve it for another one of my students who used to live with her grandmother but now seems to show up for school about once a month but the adult with her seems to be an unrelated really skanky looking man. It doesn’t solve it for the 8 other kids who are empty seats most days.

I don’t have answers, but the problems are too complicated solve with soundbites.

Only slightly off topic, furlibusea mentions the many languages in one classroom, and here’s something I find interesting: in my daughter’s school (which is a middle school and has only two grades) fifty-six languages are represented. 8% of the student body identifies as Hispanic. We have a bilingual program ONLY for Spanish speaking students. The bilingual program currently allows students to stay in Spanish-speaking classrooms for six years, although that has recently been reduced to three years (that change commences next school year.) We are not teaching students in 54 other languages…

but Hispanic students, while scoring lower than white and Asian students on standardized tests, are scoring higher than black students. We did some preliminary disaggregation of the test data in anticipation of the NCLB requirements and discovered that our (native English speaking) black students routinely score WAY lower than even ESL students.

NCLB’s answer to this problem is to increase funding for low-income students by taking money OUT of bilingual education. As an interesting side note, we also know now that our “average” black student has a family income higher than that of our “average” Hispanic student family.

This makes sense??

You are being the answer every day you show up and give these kids your best. It may not, probably won’t, show up on some standardized test. Don’t forget that you are making a difference. You are obviously connecting with your kids. You never know when the benefits of what you do with them every day will pay off. I applaud your devotion and concern for your kids.

Personally, as a student, I do enjoy NCLB deep, deep, deep, down inside. Why, you ask? Well, it is just so easy to attack.

Case 1
We were handed brochures and asked to take them home to our parents. I tore it in half and scawled “EVIL” all over it and taped it to the front of the school. I think some one from high up in the country was coming that day.

Case 2A
We were asked to take a practice field WRITING test. Our incentive was not even clear upon us taking it, but my teacher was so enraged that we were wasting class time for something so pointless that she gave us a free 100 test grade or something. Anyways, I got to write about the effects of politicians and admin. not getting enough rest. It was really fun talking about how poor decisions like NCLB and field writing tests sprouted from an improper nights rest. I am still waiting for my results.

Case 2B
On the day of the actual writing test, I was able to write a speech on why graduating students have limited integrity due to standardized testing. I am still waiting for my results on that one as well.

I do not know my point, actually. I just wanted to share some fun stories of mine. See, it actually helps kids such as myself. (I am in 10th grade, btw…)

I made an honest mistake and apologised for it. If you’re that offended, perhaps you should step away from your computer for a bit.

My cousin teaches in a public school in Washington, D.C. Most of her students are the children of immigrants, many of whom are semi-illiterate in their native language, let alone English. Like furlibusea’s students, they’re coping with poverty, hunger, and crime in ways that 8-year-olds should never have to. She can give them her absolute best, and she does, but she can’t save every kid. She can’t even reach every kid, and it eats her up inside. Teachers can’t do everything.

Actually, I think this might be one of those rare cases where throwing money at the problem would help tremendously, provided that the money was spent solely on reducing class sizes. If every class was no larger than 15 students, I believe student performance would improve dramatically. I’ve taught classes of 12 and I’ve taught classes of 35. There’s absolutely no question that it’s easier to make sure that each students’ needs are being met in a smaller class.

I work with public and private school classes on a regular basis. Almost without fail, the private school kids are better behaved and more advanced than the public school kids. It’s not that they’re smarter or better than the public school kids. It’s that they go to schools that, for the most part, emphasize a low student/teacher ratio and parental involvement. You can’t legislate parental involvement, but you can work on getting that student/teacher ratio lower.

Wow, I’m sorry I didn’t see this thread before. I’m an attorney who writes and edits a monthly devoted exclusively to NCLB; as we can see, there’s a reason that it’s been a successful venture for my employer. It’s wildly complex, sometimes self-contradictory, and politically a huge football, so everyone (not least, the Ed. Dep’t itself) tries to use NCLB to advance their own agendas.

Let me make some comments - I’ll probably make more than one post. Forgive me if some of my answers are a bit technical, I’m happy to explain further if I’m unclear.

Actually, it does. Note that the report you’re referring to was from September 2002, when this was all very new and the Department hadn’t yet issued much in the way of final regulations. There are, in fact, two separate exceptions to the general that all students must take regular assessments keyed to uniform standards. First, NCLB and the special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, require states to develop alternate assessments for students with disabilities. These assessments would be keyed to the same standards as other students must meet, but would be restructured to meet students’ needs. Second, for students with severe cognitive disabilities, states may (and I’m sure most will) adopt alternate standards, too.

Remember that many SWDs (students with disabilities) can in fact take regular assessments keyed to regular standards, they just need accommodations - such as extra time, or special equipment.

The larger point is that prior to NCLB, most students with disabilities weren’t assessed at all. That meant that schools had little incentive to make sure that they were acquiring necessary skills - or to help them when they weren’t.

Just on Monday, the Department issued a press release indicating that they’re trying to come up with a work-around. Essentially, teachers in rural schools are going to be given extra time to become “highly qualified” in extra subjects, provided they’re already “highly qualified” in one. It’s a bit of a stretch from the statutory language, but it’s actually in keeping with existing regulations allowing teachers in alternate certification programs (Troops-to-Teachers, etc.) to be deemed “highly qualified” while they finish their certification. A bigger issue is in dealing with special education teachers, who in theory must be qualified in every subject, even though they’re usually highly trained in special ed. Here, the Department is very much bound to the law as written - “special ed” is not one of the listed subjects. I think the staff are hoping that amendments to IDEA (which in theory is up for renewal this year) will take care of the problem, but since it’s an election year I’m not assuming Congress will actually meet the challenge.

Well, not necessarily, not by a long shot. Many urban districts (e.g. DC) have extremely high per-pupil expenditures and still can’t manage to achieve much because of widespread incompetence. The problem is that in the past we’ve spent even more money on schools that were doing badly, which has the effect of rewarding that very incompetence. And we don’t have time. Every year that a school spins its wheels, its students fall further behind.

Well, bear in mind that the law’s standard isn’t “excellence,” it’s “proficiency,” and the Department appears to allow that to be set pretty low. What’s pathetic is that even basic literacy and numeracy is such a difficult goal to meet. And the evidence is that in fact, a very large number of students, especially black and Hispanic students, aren’t meeting even this standard.

Well, yes. We have limited resources. We have an enormous learning gap. Where would you have us spend the money - on bridging that gap, or on helping those at the top of the gap widen it still more? Remember, we are speaking of public education, and public priorities.

The kids who lose most are the low-income gifted. I’m not worried about kids like the one I once was, with graduate degree-holding parents and more books in the house than most school libraries have (I’m not exaggerating, btw). Life is often a bit sucky socially but you know what? Most will get over it. Their parents will whine mightily, but in the end the kids’ll do fine. What’s worrying is what to do about kids who don’t have those resources. And NCLB simply doesn’t address that, because in this wildly imperfect world in which we live, there will never be enough resources to do everything. And right now we’re facing social catastrophe if we consign yet another generation to functional illiteracy and innumeracy.

This is incorrect. The limitations are not at the school level - they’re at the district level, and even at that, districts can get a waiver if they’ve got a good reason (such as a special facility or a low overall population that plays statistical havoc). And the regulations limit only the number of students who can be assessed against alternate standards - there’s no limit on using alternate assessments based on regular standards, or accommodations to use regular assessments. Basically, the limitations exist because administrators have a bad history of overdiagnosing cognitive disabilities, partly because in the past those students weren’t assessed at all.

Testing is never perfect, but grades are even worse. What else do we do? How else do we know which students are doing well and which aren’t? Which teachers and which schools are doing well, and which aren’t?

A couple of things. First, states are in a very awkward stage of moving from pre-NCLB to post-NCLB testing, and it’s resulting in far too much complexity and, in some cases, too many tests. With luck, that’ll pass. And it’s true, lots of teachers aren’t happy about having to “teach to the test.” But for many students, this is precisely what they need. Flexibility in the hands of really good teachers is a wonderful thing, but most teachers aren’t really good. So yup, that means teaching to the test. Provided the test is covering what students need to know, in many classrooms this is actually progress.

The funding charge is a bit of a canard. In fact, under W, Title I spending is up about 40 percent over four years - the trouble, of course, is that states are feeling a pinch, so overall funding isn’t going up. And the feds are being much more aggressive about telling districts what they can and can’t spend their money on. Change is never comfortable, so of course there’s whining - regardless of whether a district’s pre-NCLB funding priorities were actually doing any good or not.

It sounds like your objection is not that NCLB isn’t objective, but that it’s too objective. No, we don’t care where a child is from or what horrible things have happened to them - well, we do care, but we’re not going to acknowledge it officially because that lets us grown-ups start making excuses. Within the four walls of this school, we expect that every child can learn, regardless. Every child won’t be “excellent.” But “proficient?” Can’t we try for that?

I agree, this is a lot less than idea. But again, given limited resources, what do we do? For bright, better-off kids, school as we know it is as much a hindrance as anything else. But for their poorer peers, it’s the only chance they’ll get. Ever. You may choose only one. Which?

You don’t have to only choose one.

You can put the really bright kid in the gifted class and let them keep shooting for the moon, while the kid who is very slow academically can be helped to learn enough to hopefully some day live an independent life.

I’m sticking with momsix’s opinion. Instead of forcing damn near every kid onto the same train whether their bags are over packed or empty, put them on the train that’s right for them with the bags that are right for them.