Friday, April 11, 2008

You down with NCLB? Yeah you know me!

I saw a blog on No Child Left Behind and I just couldn't resist throwing my hat into the ring. Being an educator of seven years I have seen the impact that NCLB has had on my school and the delivery of curriculum. In the state of Pennsylvania students all over the state recently participated in the PSSA assessments which measure student proficiency in writing, math, reading, and science. To assess these four content areas, approximately two weeks was set aside to administer the tests.  I must admit that there are many downsides to such assessments and my colleague James is correct in his statement that there are many educators that are adamantly opposed to these tests, but unfortunately educators are going to have to accept the fact that NCLB is here to stay. Whether the legislation is called NCLB or if it takes on another name, accountability and high stakes testing will not go away. As an educator, we spend a great amount of time focusing on meeting state standards and benchmarks, however I must say that this can be a good thing. Why are people so opposed to NCLB tests, however we have no problem with Advanced Placement courses which are tailored entirely for the assessment. Anybody who has taken an AP course will tell you that a great deal of class is spent reviewing and preparing for the exam. Why is this acceptable for the intellectual students, however we hate the fact that students in regular education and special education classes are being held to standards. I agree that creativity and project based learning has suffered somewhat under NCLB, but students are being forced to learn fundamental concepts that are required of any degree bearing institution. Perhaps James makes his best point where he says is education preparing students for the 21st century? I don't think a series of assessments necessarily leads to the heart of the problem. I think the problem stems from our culture whereby education is not valued. NCLB is an easy target for much larger issues. I could spend a great amount of time as an educator complaining about NCLB, or I could man up, accept the system, and rise above.  I have chosen the second option, and I only hope that more of my colleagues follow my example. 


Bryan Pol said...

The man writing this has just dropped KNOWLEDGE. This is when keeping it real...goes right. As an esteemed colleague of mine, Marc has offered up wonderful insight on NCLB legislation, which, for its many 'faults,' does enforce something all kids are losing a battle with: accountability.

Michael said...

I've got no problem with accountability - I have a problem with the system not giving you the tools do to what you do best - and then holding you and your district accountable when little johnny doesn't hold up his end of the bargain because mom won't tell him to turn off the xbox. And as someone who sat right beside you taking the AP tests, the difference between those and high stakes state assessments like PSSA's is that you and I CHOSE to take the AP courses. We asked to be assessed - and in return we were awarded college credits for our good performance (and saved money on gen-ed courses). All I'm saying is...there's got to be a better way than drill and kill assessments. And the gov't needs to pony up and show some respect for the teaching force by providing funding and proper support. great post, bro.

Marc Valentine said...

If you look at the PSSA tests in PA,( and I can't speak for other states assessments), they assess very basic concepts. James is 100% right in his follow up about holistic education. Unfortunately today's students can construct a sentence properly let alone formulate thesis statements and research census data. If you took a good look at PSSA assessments you will find they are not necessarily drill and kill tests, they assess very basic concepts that if a student doesn't know them, they should not get a piece of paper saying they passed high school. Bottom line is that we need to stop waving a wand and promoting everybody just because it looks good. If they fail the tests, employers need to know that they are hiring individuals that do not possess very basic mathematical and reading skills.