Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leave No Child Behind

"More states lowered their standards for academic proficiency in recent years than raised them, and nearly all used exams that fell short of federal testing benchmarks, accorsding to a new study. ... It also cast doubt on claims of educational progress made by many states. ... The federal [NCLB] law requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014, but leaves to each state the job of measuring achievement. ... The study of 47 states compared test scores of fourth-grade and eighth-grade students in reading and mathematics in 2005 and 2007. The differences found were especially stark between states considered to have the highest proficiency standards--such as Massachusetts and South Carolina--and those with the lowest, including Tennessee and Mississippi. A Tennessee child in fourth-grade math, for example, would be considered proficient with a state score equivalent to 198 on the NAEP exam. A child in Massachusetts would need to score 254. ... A student deemed proficient in Massachusetts would be five or six years ahead of a proficient Tennessee math student, according to researchers", my emphasis, John Hechinger at the WSJ, 30 October 2009, link:

NCLB is and always was a farce. Suppose it required all fifth-graders to be 5' 10" tall, what then? People might realize how absurd it is.


Anonymous said...

OK confession...

When I first learned about NCLB I was totally supportive... it made perfect sense to me.

I thought "it's racism to expect less of black children".

I was thinking that we tolerated low standards for poor, often black children.

I thought by "insisting" on higher standards we could spur teachers to teach harder or get more from their students.

Well. I'm the dummy. All children should read and write. But. There are many levels of academic proficiency and just creating testing regimes doesn't do much to change that.

I'm no longer a believer. But it does make me realize how political ideas have "hooks"... that attach to our preconceived notions of the society.

Jill said...

NCLB is, indeed a farce. Far too many teachers are now forced to "teach the test" - meaning they teach only those materials on standard tests. There is no longer room for teachers to be innovative. We have kids that can answer a test question but who can't think critically,use deductive reasoning, or follow a pattern of logic. We're breeding a generation of test takers rather than a generation of thinkers, creators, and innovators.

Robyn said...

i know many teachers. when every teacher i consider a GOOD teacher despises a concept, i figure there has to be a reason.
no child left behind means no child gets ahead.
it has ripped the guts out of the education system.

let's not get me started on piaget and readiness and howit ignores everything we've learned about child development in the last century.

Alan said...

The emphasis on test scores is, too often, a distraction from genuinely learning math. Equally as true, when the kids actually comprehend the subject, the test scores will begin to reflect this.

National math test scores continue to be disappointing. This poor trend persists in spite of new texts, standardized tests with attached implied threats, or laptops in the class. At some point, maybe we should admit that math, as it is taught currently and in the recent past, seems irrelevant to a large percentage of grade school kids.

Why blame a sixth grade student or teacher trapped by meaningless lessons? Teachers are frustrated. Students check out.

The missing element is reality. Instead of insisting that students learn another sixteen formulae, we need to involve them in tangible life projects. And the task must be interesting.

Project-oriented math engages kids. It is fun. They have a reason to learn the math they may have ignored in the standard lecture format of a class room.

Alan Cook