Skip to comments.Get Congress Out of the Classroom
Posted on 10/02/2007 11:00:09 PM PDT by neverdem
DESPITE the rosy claims of the Bush administration, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 is fundamentally flawed. The latest national tests, released last week, show that academic gains since 2003 have been modest, less even than those posted in the years before the law was put in place. In eighth-grade reading, there have been no gains at all since 1998.
The main goal of the law that all children in the United States will be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014 is simply unattainable. The primary strategy to test all children in those subjects in grades three through eight every year has unleashed an unhealthy obsession with standardized testing that has reduced the time available for teaching other important subjects. Furthermore, the law completely fractures the traditional limits on federal interference in the operation of local schools.
Unfortunately, the Congressional leaders in both parties seem determined to renew the law, probably after next years presidential election, with only minor changes. But No Child Left Behind should be radically overhauled, not just tweaked.
Under the law, the states devise their own standards and their own tests. Based on the test results, every school is expected to make adequate yearly progress in grades three to eight so as to be on track to meet that goal of universal proficiency by 2014. Schools that do not meet their annual target for every group of students as defined by race, poverty, language and disability status are subject to increasingly onerous sanctions written into the federal law.
Schools that fail to meet their target for two consecutive years must offer their students the choice to go to a more successful public school; if they fail the following year, they must provide tutoring to their students. If...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
It’s too hard to do...
we should quit.
From the post
“has unleashed an unhealthy obsession with standardized testing that has reduced the time available for teaching other important subjects”
I have a boy in first grade and all the teachers, if you can get then to tell you what they think, hate the test. There is so many other things they FEEL they should be teaching your child.
The largest sign in the school says “Save the Planet recycle”
I think I know what the “other things” are.
DITTOS!!! The teacher that hate "teaching to the test" are misleading in 3 ways:
1. If they simply taught the curriculum, the test would take care of itself. This should be 'teaching to the curriculum'.
2. The schools teach to the test as a shortcut. They want to juice their numbers, they want kids to do well without covering curriculum. They dont HAVE to 'teach to the test', no student or parent is demanding it. They CHOOSE to do this for their own bureaucratic reasons.
3. The 'other stuff' the kids learn that the edu-crats think is 'so important' is the useless PC cr*p that no child should be assaulted with. In Texas here, they 'taught to the test' by making kids write essay after essay. I was thrilled, as it was the *only* challenging writing they were giving in 4th grade. Who knows what junk filler they would have had without it.
Summary: Dont ever buy the 'standardized testing is bad because it makes us teach to the test'. That is BUNK.
Diane Ravitch wrote a very interesting book called “The Language Police”. It’s about how kids in school are losing access to good literature because everything offends somebody.
I got these three examples from the book from Wikipedia:
A true story about a blind mountain climber who scaled Mt. McKinley was deleted, allegedly because it implied that “people that are blind are somehow at a disadvantage compared to people who have normal sight”.
A story about a rotting stump providing shelter to various animals that contained a passage comparing the stump to an apartment building was unanimously rejected by a bias and sensitivity committee which felt that the reference was a negative stereotype about the residents of apartment buildings.
An entry describing owls was not accepted after a Native American member of the committee “said that owls were taboo for the Navajos”.
Excerpt - Wikipedia:
President Ronald Reagan promised during the 1980 presidential election to eliminate the Department of Education as a cabinet post, but he was not able to do so with a Democratic House of Representatives.
In the 1982 State of the Union Address, he pledged, “The budget plan I submit to you on Feb. 8 will realize major savings by dismantling the Department of Education.”
Throughout the 1980s, the abolition of the Department of Education was a part of the Republican Party platform (snip)
A great man, confronting Bolsheviks both foreign and domestic.
I sometimes wonder what the outcome of WWII would have been had government operated our factories, and I really wonder what language I might be using now.
Government, especially big centralized government, is ruining education.
They do teach to the test. I have 2 in HS and one in elementary. I cannot keep up with the curriculum in elementary. They change it every year, and they change it drastically. When you question them about it, it’s all about getting more kids to pass the test. They gloss over everything, trying to shove 10 lbs of you know what in a 5 lb bag.
There is exactly one presidential candidate who advocates a much smaller federal government, including eliminating the department of education, but we aren't supposed to talk about him on this site.
The “other things” contribute to the pathetic ignorance of public school victims.
“They do teach to the test. I have 2 in HS and one in elementary. I cannot keep up with the curriculum in elementary. They change it every year, and they change it drastically. “
Which raises all sorts of red flags all by itself.
I have some old (ie 100 year old) readers and elementary textbooks. You could use them today and do a better job than the texts they have now. ...
Yet another reason for school choice. The edu-crat agenda - of looking good for the powers-that-be, of being ‘interesting’ to teachers, of catering to the ‘system’ instead of child, of letting political correctness dictate to kids - all of it puts the kids last.
Let parents choose schools and school will part putting parents and kids *first* in order to attract and keep those students and parents.
“Reagan never did succeed in reducing the size of government, but at least he gave it lip service. Now the Republican party is just as bad about expanding the welfare state as the Dems.”
Not today. The Dems increased the welfare state by $50 billion in the SCHIP bill ... and Bush vetoed it.
Hats off to Bush for vetoing a bill the liberal MSM is screaming is oh so popular. ya know, medical care for kids, etc.
If you had read the tests (at least the released test questions for all the grades) I’m not sure you would make that comment.
For Hillary, There's No Such Thing as Dirty Money The Nation mag is getting in on the fun.
Donors Stir 'Bundling' Questions (another "shoe") I missed the original story.
From time to time, Ill ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
Thanks for the ping!
Shows what a great name for a bill can accomplish. :’) Thanks neverdem.
somehow? I'm speechless.
Umm, it IS nothing. I've administered those tests when we homeschooled and they're pathetically easy. Some of the questions are written so that guessing is the only way to get them wrong.
And even if all the kid did was answer *C* for the multiple choice, he'd get 25% for that section.
There, I fixed it. I'm guessing that's what the writer really meant to say.
Congratulations! The author, Diane Ravitch, is about as liberal about education as James C. Dobson is about family values in "The Values Test".
What she's saying is that the states, which get to design their own tests, are making the tests easier and easier to avoid sanctions.
The states know that it's impossible to have every child (even the mentally retarded) proficient, no matter how long a time they are given.
Basically, right now the states seem to "cheating" to maintain the status quo. Ravitch is saying that if the government established consistent national standards, then let the states find ways of meeting them, at least you'd be able to compare the real quality of education from state to state and district to district, then the locals could decide how to improve things.
The more I hear about this law and it’s ‘sanctions’ the more I am realizing how much smoke and mirror it is.
Since its inception, my school has made AYP ZERO times.
Have we seen any sanctions? No. Have we been forced to follow the repercussions? No.
The State Department is ‘supposed’ to take over the school after a certain point, which I am all for. I would *encourage* an Atlanta bureaucrat to come and tell me how to teach my children better.
I know for a fact that the elementary and middle schools are continuing to do the exact same thing they have done since school began: taking the kids who don’t make it, patting them on the back for trying their best and shipping them out to the next school level, without any mastery of basic skills. This is illegal under the NCLB, but they do it all the time.
Overhaul, repeal, keep the law, it will not matter. This law is/was a ‘feel good about ourselves’ law.
Precisely so. This is the major reason I am so disillusioned about the law. I had hoped that if nothing else, it would stop social promotion.
But, when Ravitch writes in favor of "a consistent national testing program", she adds: "in which officials have no vested interest in claiming victory." That translates to: "Schools should not be penalized if they don't meet the standards."
Her solution seems to be that Washington's role should be limited to information-collector. I could agree with that solution if Washington were not funding education. As long as the taxpayers are forced to fund it, there should be penalties for schools that don't perform well.
I thought it translated to "State officials shouldn't be able to manipulate the tests to make the systems in their own states look successful when they aren't really."
As long as the taxpayers are forced to fund it, there should be penalties for schools that don't perform well.
I don't think she's saying that there shouldn't be penalties; she's saying that states and local school districts know better than Washington how to fix their own schools, and so Washington shouldn't be imposing "one size fits all" penalties and/or solutions on schools. Do you disagree?
I think that's part of what she's saying. But the reason state officials manipulate tests to make their state's schools look successful is to comply with the NCLB and avoid penalties. The writer is in favor of: "a consistent national testing program in which officials have no vested interest in claiming victory." Their interest in claiming victory right now is to avoid being penalized. So she must want the penalties to be dropped.
In any case, the article isn't very clear. We're left trying to read between the lines. The writer is not being as straightforward as we're being.
she's saying that states and local school districts know better than Washington how to fix their own schools, and so Washington shouldn't be imposing "one size fits all" penalties and/or solutions on schools. Do you disagree?
I agree there's no "one size fits all" solution that can work for all schools, just as there's no "one size fits all" solution that works for every student.
I just disagree with the writer that schools shouldn't be penalized if they don't perform well, which is what she seems to be saying.
I think the role of the Dept. of Education should be limited to collecting data, providing information, and proposing standards. With Washington funding schools, we'll always have a problem with Washington exercising some form of control over them.
I thought she was saying that national officials wouldn't have a vested interest in making a particular state look good, so they would hopefully come up with a test that would be comparable across the board.
Then if a particular state didn't do well, there would be more incentive for the state officials to actually do something about it - they wouldn't be able to claim they were doing a great job, when kids were still performing below standards. In our state, all the 8th graders used to take the more national Iowa Test of Basic Skills, but since NCLB, they take a state-developed test. Why do you suppose that is?
The problem with giving all students the same test is that people would complain the federal government was trying to impose a national curriculum, and they'd also worry about whatever testing company received the contract.
The more I come back to this article, the more I disagree.
I *want* a top notch Department of Education bureaucrat to come into my classroom and teach 25 students how to compose an essay using the standards the state has set for said essay.
And do it in 6 weeks. Take students who have fundamental problems that should have been dealt with years ago, and turn them into Pulitzer Prize writers.
Our science department went to one such meeting not too long back and questioned one of the question writers of said high stakes test that are required to meet NCLB and AYP. The person got so angry and flustered that he stormed out of the room and refused to answer any more questions. Questions like: “Where are you piloting this test?”; “What is the demographic there?” (He was using upper echelon Atlanta suburb schools and completely ignoring anywhere else).
That said, bring someone from the gilded halls and fortresses of government and let’s see how well they can do where I have failed.
Very good point!
Our science department went to one such meeting not too long back and questioned one of the question writers of said high stakes test that are required to meet NCLB and AYP. The person got so angry and flustered that he stormed out of the room and refused to answer any more questions. Questions like: Where are you piloting this test?; What is the demographic there? (He was using upper echelon Atlanta suburb schools and completely ignoring anywhere else).
That is interesting information. I'd have loved to have been in the meeting!
I'm convinced that they manipulate the EOCT and GHSGT scores so that the "correct" number of students pass. If you look at the EOCT results, they give a grade for each student, and then they tell how many questions the student got correct. If you figure a percentage grade, it's nowhere near as high as the "grade" the state assigns.
But, now I do. I just did a (long) search to find out where she stands. Politically, she is an independent who has been critical of both liberals and conservatives. But she has been a long-time supporter of national testing, which falls in line with the article above, as well as increased funding of education.
In this article from 2005, she's much more straightforward in advocating federalization of education:
(SNIP)"Americans must recognize that we need national standards, national tests and a national curriculum."(/SNIP)
But she never mentions what should happen to the schools that do not perform to federal standards.
She has written other articles in favor of state and local control of the schools, too. In reading through all the different articles and quotes, it's clear she wants Washington to establish national standards while states figure out how to meet those standards. In other words, if a school doesn't meet the national standards, the school/state must establish a plan to meet the standards without federal interference. I can only presume that means she doesn't want the schools to be penalized by Washington if they fail.
This is what I want a top notch educational consultant from the highest echelons of the Dept of Ed to tell me:
Take a class of 12 students all with identified learning disabilities in reading, all reading 3-5 years below grade level, all in a disadvantaged households, most with broken families, 3 with anger issues (as in throwing chairs across my room), 1 living out of a car, 1 that speaks about 1000 words of English and is LD in her native language (but born in the USA 12 years ago), in a 45 minute period that is broken in half with lunch in the middle - AND get them to grade level in 180 days. I have a masters in reading from UVA and apparently that's not good enough. I am an open book ready to learn and will do anything they suggest.
Go ahead - teach me how to teach this class.
Give schools back to the local communities.
That’s who controlled ‘em back when they last worked.
I suppose you could penalize failing schools by cutting off federal funds to them, but in many cases, that wouldn't work either, because most of these schools are in very poor districts. State or federal takeovers might work better, because in many of these cases, the funds that are available are not being well-spent, going to administrators etc rather than being spent in the classroom. Washington DC would be an example.
In some cases, I'd posit that the schools are failing at least in part because the communities are in such disarray - in some poor inner city areas, the chaos in the schools reflects the chaos in family & social life in the communities.
I tend to think chosing an objective national test for all schools to use might be a good start for being able to realistically determine educational quality in all schools.
I agree. My concern is with the system of rewarding schools for poor performance.
Interesting that you pointed out how funds are not spent well and are going to administrators in many cases. Years ago, I interviewed a schoolteacher who headed a parents' group and was fighting to improve inner city schools. She told me the same - that most of the funds were going toward benefits for administrators instead of supplies for the kids. She said the students were not given books - only photocopies. Some schools had no toilet paper in the bathrooms. She said the schools were dangerous, not only in terms of drug-dealing and violence, but the buildings themselves were falling apart.
Of course, even when more funds are spent on the students and the school facilities are maintained well, there are problems with drugs and violence, and the suburbs are no exception. This idea of mass education is not the best system. As the comments on this thread indicate, it's difficult (if not downright impossible) to ensure all students reach their maximum potential when one person is expected to teach large groups of students, each one with different needs and learning abilities.
Washington should set national standards (not requirements, just recommendations). But, I don't think it should fund education. I wish the system would undergo a complete overhaul with fresh ideas. I'd like to see it move toward privatization and then eventually into the free market. Then maybe there would be many more options available.