Saturday, January 13, 2007

No Child Left Behind?

A visit to the web site of our US Department of Education yielded lots of information about good old H.R. 1 aka the “No Child Left Behind” Act. There is a lot of doublespeak, but this is a good chunk of what I found.

The major provisions are:

H.R. 1 will result in the creation of assessments in each state that measure what children know and learn in reading and math in grades 3-8. Student progress and achievement will be measured according to tests that will be given to every child, every year.
And there’s our answer about the No Child Act and testing link. If we were really making schools accountable why are we only assessing students? I can think of several ways to make the US Department of Education, NYS, School Administrators and Teachers accountable. And none of those ways heaps more stress on our children.

H.R. 1 will empower parents, citizens, educators, administrators, and policymakers with data from those annual assessments. The data will be available in annual report cards on school performance and on statewide progress. They will give parents information about the quality of their children's schools, the qualifications of teachers, and their children's progress in key subjects.
Um… I don’t feel empowered. I also do not feel that the test scores have given me any solid information about the quality of my children’s schools, teachers, or progress. Let me tell you a little story. In middle school, my son never received a grade below 95 in Math. When he took the TONYSS assessment, he scored a “2 out of 4” within a system where “3” is the minimum grade considered “proficient”. This “2” resulted in him being placed in a Math Skills Lab to receive Math support. When I called to inquire about this placement, I was told that any student who scored a “1 or 2” was placed in Skills Lab. My requests that someone… anyone… a guidance counselor, his math teacher… look at his overall performance went unanswered. Ultimately he continued to receive 90s in Math and 100 in Skills Lab, which he treated as a bonus to boost his overall average. So, where, exactly is the empowerment? How is this information helping?

Under No Child Left Behind, states and school districts have unprecedented flexibility in how they use federal education funds.
How much flexibility are we talking here? Because my kids still don’t have textbooks for the most part. They are being handed photocopies of textbook pages and are keeping them in a binder. Where’s this money? Are we spending it on number two pencils and bubble sheet practice pages? SHOW ME THE MONEY. I’ll help figure out how to spend it. Really. Just call.

Parents of children in low-performing schools have new options under No Child Left Behind. In schools that do not meet state standards for at least two consecutive years, parents may transfer their children to a better-performing public school, including a public charter school, within their district. The district must provide transportation, using Title I funds if necessary.
What about students receiving a substandard education in a public school that passes tests? What choices are available to those parents?

No Child Left Behind puts emphasis on determining which educational programs and practices have been proven effective through rigorous scientific research. Federal funding is targeted to support these programs and teaching methods that work to improve student learning and achievement.
Until someone gets the guts to face the Unions and get rid of tenure, we will continue to have some teachers who teach and some who merely check their email and collect their paycheck. I see the research… I don’t see the changes in practice. Then again, it’s probably all based on test results which are inaccurate. I also take issue with the fact that while federal funding is targeting programs to improve student achievement, there is absolutely nothing mandating support for children classified as gifted.

Coming soon… How my gifted child is left behind.



Anonymous said...

This is apalling! I wonder where the payoff is?

TomCat said...

Ummmm..... 'No Child Left Behind' is just a test case for Bush's main social plan, 'No Billionaire Left Behind', a stunning success.

TomCat said...

Just a note. I've enjoyed your blog for some time, and finally updated my 'Blogs I Like' list at PP to include it. Please pardon the delay.

Women on the Verge said...

Thank you for including us!

TomCat said...

You're most welcome. Thank you for being here to include.

HecticbutHappy said...

I really like your blog, I will be back often. Thanks for the great topics!