Thursday, May 05, 2005

Learn 'Em Good.

Net sales for the publishing industry have risen by 1.3% in the United States. All told, Americans spent 23.72 billion dollars on the written word in 2003-2004. A breakdown shows that there was only a .1% increase in spent funds for elementary and high school texts. Juxtaposed to this statistic is a 12.4% increase in standardized test sales in the US. We know that standardized tests have become a critical component in the rubric set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act. Do such exams really measure one's educational progress? Moreover, should the results from such testing be used as a means to test the proficiency of school teachers?

I have long been a supporter the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLA). I firmly believe that established standards for educational development have been long overdue. However, is the federal government providing adequate resources for this program to be implemented? I recently read this criticism about NCLA. In it, Carol Tomlinson suggests that we are setting the bar way too low for school children. What do you think? Will NCLA really help our country catch up with the rest of the world educationally, considering the low standards it sets on "proficiency?"

For those of you with children, speak up. I'd like to hear how you would like to see your children educated. For those you you without children, speak up. These kid's will be paying for your social security (yeah right!).


Blogger Z said...

"Catching up," as you say, is tricky because it doesn't just depend on what the schools can and cannot do. There has to be an education ethic at home as well, an expectation that the child value his or her ability to learn and make critical choices.

What Tomlinson says makes sense, but so does the ideology behind NCLB, if not its methodology. Ideally, there would be less focus on standardization, as the average bar in the US tends to be set much lower than elsewhere.

A comprehensive education is a worthy goal, but you can't realistically hope to foist it on everyone.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

I can rant about this for hours since I am am a teacher and a mom. This no child left behind is a comlete waste of time and energy. The idea in thoery is wonderful, but the actual installment of it is a joke. I agree that the whole educational system needs a complete overhaul, but this clearly isn't it. One of the biggest problems I see is that they want schools to be accountable for test scores, great, but they also need to give us the money and resources to pay for it. I live in Las Vegas and the growth of this city is unbelievable, the school district cannot build schools fast enough to meet the needs of this town. Most money is spent on building the schools and not given to the teachers to buy the supplies. Not to mention the fact that we are suppose to have class size reduction. The school I am at now has almost 1400 students. They should have 19 3rd graders in a classroom and at my school they have close to 30. How can a teacher meet the needs of all those students, especially with inclusion and ELL? Ok I will get off my soap box and stop before I type on this subject for hours. I do believe that our society has relied way too much on test scores as a way to measure success.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Teri: Given adequate funding from the federal government, would you support NCLB?

9:49 PM  
Blogger mindful said...

I hope the NCLB teaches these youngins to treat their elders with a proper respect!

Seriously, though, the NCLB is the first step towards making teachers and schools accountable for teaching. That's a good thing. But when will the school systems stop wasting their money on administrative costs and spending more money on teachers and classroom supplies? That's what really needs to happen. Hopefully the NCLB helps us get there.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Raine said...

Children who come from homes in which parents demand good grades tend to do well--even if the parents are not well educated. This goes to the education ethic in the home z was speaking of. Without such an expectation from parents, no amount of standardized testing backed up with threats to cut funding will improve test scores.

Of course it helps if along with the kid wanting or being expected to do well there are school text books and needed supplies available. Along that line, I like the idea of the 65% solution espoused here:

11:42 PM  
Anonymous little john said...

As the parent of three kids I agree with the previous comments. Educational ethic in the home is vital! Some sort of standards are important although in my area there have been a number of instances where the school (which is rewarded monetarily for good test scores)has been helping and encouraging cheating on the tests. I am not sure, given the enormity of scale, if there is a better way. Administrative expenses are crazy. This is an area that must be addressed.

10:03 AM  
Blogger fuzk said...

This is really an interesting post.

Let's see.. over in Singapore, test scores are everything. Children goes to school from the age 6 or 7 (I can't really remember). After that it's 10 years of school to get the GCE 'O' Levels, and that's just the beginning of the story. After that there's college and university.

I think what we have here is an extreme opposite of what you guys have over there. In the sense that everyone is too pre-occupied with test scores. Especially parents.

I personally believe in balance. Test scores are important, yes.. BUT they are not everything.

Oh yes, I think the NCLB is a good idea. It also helps if the kids have supportive parents.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

There are still plenty of other things I do not agree with NCLB. An area of concern I have is that every school must show improvement every year. The school I did my student teaching at had awesome test scores in the 90%. Having to improve every year, when you are at 96% puts too much pressure on the teachers. If you do not improve to 97% next year you are failing. At some point or another when you reach 99% what will happen next? It is impossible to have every student pass the test without making a mistake. Basically within a few years every school will not make AYP (adequate yearly progress) and have to spend a ton of money preparing documentation why they didn't and come up with plans on how to "fix" the problem. Another problem is that even if you do not speak or understand the language you have to take the test in english. I had a student who just arrived in the United States 2 weeks before we took our test and he had to take it, even though he didn't speak the language. I am not sure how I failed my student as a teacher when I wasn't even given the opportunity to teach to him. Like I said before I can go on for hours about this. I agree there needs to be accountbility, but we need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better solution to this growing problem.

11:31 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

My concerns with NCLB are with several unaddressed issues in application. Here in Las Vegas we have several schools that we consider "year-round" and some that have the regular 3 month summer vacation. Each of these schools have a specific idea of how many weeks of teaching you are to give. There are several weeks (about a month) of testing with NCLB adding 2 weeks more. Do you implement the testing at the end of the year after you really had time to teach the children or during the middle where you now have to backtrack to refresh their memories so they can continue learning until the close of the year? If the government wishes to push NCLB, they should fund it. But, I overall believe they should get out of the education business. I like the idea of No Child Left Behind but I feel it is leaving a lot more in its wake and sending good teachers to better paying, more reasonable professions.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Hillbilly Mom said...

Here's what I see as a secondary
teacher and elementary mom.
Parents drop their kids off at
7:30 am. We feed them breakfast
(free, if they can't afford it).
We teach them all day, provide
lunch, then have an afterschool
program until 5:00 pm. Yes, we
also provide an evening meal.
How much time do the parents
spend with the kids? Some of
them act up in school because
it is the only time they can
get attention from an adult.
At middle school, we have tutoring
4 days a week. Only a handfull
of kids attend. At high school,
the students don't take home
any books. If they don't get
it done at school, oh well.
That is their attitude, which
comes from their parents.
I agree with Teri's comment.
Our scores are good. But you
can not continue to improve
every year when scores are
already high. Test scores are
not everything. Kids need time
to be kids, yet they also need
to learn responsibility. Schools
can not raise the kids--that is
a job for parents, and some of
them are failing.

9:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home