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nclb Tag

Community Support Leads to A Quality Education

Reading Endre’s previous article on what is a quality high school had me thinking back on my own experience. I’ve mentioned before that my school district was well mixed, urban/suburban, and on the lower side general academic achievement; nothing to be particularly proud of, but it definitely could have been worse. We were fortunate enough to have resources like musical instruments, a theatre department, enough lab materials for each class to share, gym class equipment, and relatively updated textbooks. Walking into the building, you’d expect a well-functioning, happy learning environment. And for the most part it was, for the people who wanted to be there and knew how to make the most of our limited, but adequate resources. But, again, motivation was the biggest hurdle that most students (and some faculty members) had to get over; a lot of students just weren’t motivated enough to care. And I think this is a big part the whole education experience that shouldn’t be overlooked – how to create a community that encourages an importance on education, while still making it enjoyable for everyone involved. If this problem had a simple solution we wouldn’t have any issues with any educational departments anywhere.  But the changes need to start in the community. Let’s take for example my high school, which was affected by NCLB because of poor test results, and in my senior year we had a complete overhaul of how our school day was divided.  The entire student body was split up into 6 areas of interest/concentration, and apart from our required core courses, we had to choose our classes based on those small “communities” we were placed in: performance arts, business, visual arts, engineering, health and science, and law/criminal justice; the Small Learning Communities system, which was almost like fulfilling a college major.  I think the idea behind this change was to keep students interested in their classes and hoping that their grades would reflect this.  But with the way things were scheduled, it made it difficult for say, a visual arts student to take a particular health-science elective that may have sounded interesting.  For the most part, students were stuck with a curriculum filled with classes based in one medium, which made classes seem disproportionately challenging, and limiting in regards to what every student had a chance to learn. But it wouldn’t matter because each student would be (in theory) churning out good grades to report, which was the most important thing when it came to getting funding. Again, since it was in my senior year, I was only subjected to this new system for a short while, and I don’t really know how things ended up in subsequent years since it was beyond my caring (an error on my part, since I do live in the community).  But after browsing the school website for a little bit, it seems like they did away with the communities and went back to allowing students to pick electives on their own. But one thing potential positive that came...

Every Child Achieves Still Leaves Children Behind

I was initially excited to hear about a rewrite on the infamous No Child Left Behind Act since it was not only outdated, but justified high stakes testing and unrealistic standards by using financial aid as a hostage. The majority of news articles I came across mostly discussed things like how it was a bipartisan agreement to propose the rewrite, that people on both sides of the congressional aisle are divided on how it should be enforced, how it was a republican based rewrite and democrats didn’t get enough input, how it’s taking multiple sessions and debates on whether the amendments are fair, and how much the federal government should be involved in education. If I didn’t know beforehand that I was reading about an education law, I would have thought that I was looking up information on how the federal government was attempting to run the country as a whole. Every time I clicked on a new page I was met with political debates on everything from poverty to presidential accountability. But very little was mentioned on educators and those actually in the education field, and how they were involved in the process; because they basically aren’t. Education has become just another political platform for people in Washington to use to their advantage (or to other’s disadvantage). I’d like to believe that the congressional debates on education reform stem from a desire to really want to bolster American education, but I know that regardless of the issue at hand, if congress is involved there is no greater good that will benefit from the results. These days it seems like every issue brought up in Washington is just fodder for politicians to use in their speeches on how they want to “improve America,” but not take any realistic or progressive actions toward. We’ve mentioned countless times how big businesses are really the ones running the show, and this is no different; everything still comes down to who profits the most. You would think that when it comes to education standards, those directly involved in the field should have the most say in how things are run, but you don’t see teachers across the country giving their input to policy makers who, in turn, make changes based on those assessments. It’s standardized evaluations that are given the most weight – a faceless, impersonal statistic is what governs action. So now we will have the Every Child Achieves Act (summary available here) which promises to place less emphasis on evaluations from standardized test results, and allow states to evaluate teachers as they see fit. But the new law still mandates testing every year, which to me says that they aren’t completely abandoning using test results as a way to evaluate. Even if the federal government won’t be as involved in what happens based on test scores, the fact is that it will still be a test-driven system which, once again, only guarantees profits for those involved in test making. More money going to places it isn’t needed. Plus, as mentioned...

#FeedbackFriday – How would YOU re-write NCLB?

To the dismay of many, Congress is currently re-writing No Child Left Behind, also known as NCLB. This is the federal law that governs Title 1 programs amongst other areas of federal education funding. So on this #FeedbackFriday we're asking, if you were a member of congress, how would you re-write NCLB? What would you include or remove? Would you start over from scratch or just tweak the parts of the law you feel are not working. I'm particularly interested in comments from educators, who have been at odds with this law since the day President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2001. In case you want to learn more about NCLB and it's provisions, click here. So tell me - if empowered to do so, how would you re-write NCLB? And don't worry about lengthy answers, this topic deserves serious conversation....

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