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12/10/2006

Standardized Testing and the NCLB Act

Did you know that by the year 2013-2014 100% of students need to be proficient in the basic skills on statewide tests? This includes every single student in a school... learning disabled, special education, emotially impaired, bilingual students.

This is the mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act set up in 2003. Every year schools in my state must administer a statewide test, which assesses each school's progress in meeting the Grade Level Content Expectations and guidelines. In the recent past, the United States government, under the proposal pushed forward by our President, George W. Bush, adopted the No Child Left Behind act, NCLB.


When standardized tests are given, it costs the state money. The state needs to pay for the printing of the test, the writing of the test, the
scoring of the test, and the reporting of the test. Michigan has given statewide tests long before the NCLB act went into effect. My main concern regarding standardized testing is: How are the results used, and are they taking into effect all the data that is given from the testing?

First of all, I ask myself this simple question: Would I want my entire performance analyzed from one test? Is that a true way to judge how well I'm doing? What if the test is poorly written? What if I'm sick the day of the test and can't concentrate? Other questions of a similar nature also enter my mind.


Another thing that I do not like about standardized testing is how big an impact they have on today's schools. Teachers can lose their job, and schools can close because of them. True, this may help weed out the teachers that shouldn't be teaching, but I STRONGLY oppose the idea of teaching toward a test. Many schools have no choice at this time, especially if they performed poorly this past school year. They need to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or political
people (government) may intervene.

What are teachers supposed to do? Do I teach toward the test, to make sure my students will do well on the "high and mighty test"? Do I continue teaching my students the curriculum, and cross my fingers that they'll perform well on the test? I'm a highly qualified teacher, and I'm nervous about the future of education in my country.


Want to know what I really think?


I think the whole NCLB act is unplanned and a dream thought up in the middle of the night by some idiot. Do we really think we can meet the goals? It would be wonderful if we could, but because of this, it appears that over HALF of the schools in the U.S. are failing.

The NCLB Act is underfunded by around 6 BILLION dollars. Where is the money going for this? Guess..... (hint- think of something that we're sinking millions of dollars into)


The NEA and AFT both have ideas to compensate this terrible education plan, which could possibly put us farther behind than we already are. I do feel that some of what the NCLB act is trying to do is solid, but when you're not funding schools, how can it succeed.


The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) feel that there are solutions available. They stress four main areas to focus on: Adequate Yearly Progress, Highly Qualified Staff, School Improvement, and Funding.
You can look at their plan HERE:

The National Education Association (NEA) also feels that the NCLB act is hurting more than helping.
You can look at what it says here, and read why:

Schools are closing, or consolidating with other schools. Teachers are losing their passion, and deciding to leave the profession. Many others are deciding not to even bother considering teaching as a profession.


What can we do to improve it?: We need to realize that Standardized testing is not the solution to making schools better.
The keys to making schools successful are the teachers, and the supportive communities around them. I hope and pray that schools can make a stand against this current plan, and once again be allowed to be creative and imaginative. The way things are currently working, before long we’ll all be teaching toward the test, and I would hate to have it go that way. I’m sure teaching wouldn't be that much fun anymore, and my classroom would be dull and boring. At that time that I would seriously consider a change in profession.

15 Comments:

At 5:25 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Here in Oklahoma I ran into this very subject just the other day on a different matter than the standardized testing. My sons elementary school is having to focus so much on reading that the kids are not being exposed to math and science as much as they were before.

Just a little note about the NEA, they need to worry more about teaching and stop worrying about politics. In my humble opinion the only reason the NEA thinks the No Child Left Behind act is unfunded is because they want more money for the teachers and not be held accountable for the lack of progress in the class rooms. Teachers should be paid based on the success of the students and not just for showing up everyday.

Thanks for listening and I hope I didn't offend you with my comment.

 
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At 9:57 AM, Blogger Dirty Butter said...

I taught school for 29 years and absolutely hate what I saw standardized tests do to teaching over that time span. By the time I retired, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to find the time to do the creative activities that children needed to make the facts come alive for them, as we were expected to spend x number of minutes each day working on test preparation. Sure, our scores went up, but that didn't mean our learning didn't go down.

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Jon,

I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I don't agree with you, but that's fine. I think people are missing the whole picture. The whole thing "IS" a political matter for the NEA. They have to take that angle because of NCLB. That is the very reason that your child's school is focusing more on one subject than the others. Because they need to make Adequate Yearly Progress or the state government will intervene. Schools are closing because of lack of funding... I would think people would see that the NEA is doing a good thing rather than bad.

The NEA doesn't negotiate teacher's salaries either. That is all bargained between the school board and the teachers themselves.

I hope this cleared up some more issues.

Dirty Butter- Glad you understand. My school's scores were good, but writing wasn't as high as we wanted, so guess what we're focusing on now?

Thanks for visiting.

Tachizuno

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

No Child Left Behind... Isn't that the same thing as saying "No Child Gets Ahead"?

It's time to separate school and state once and for all.

 
At 7:52 PM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

One great time-tested method of getting kids to pass tests is to lower the standards. They've done that in many states, and are on the verge in California.

Great writing.

 
At 10:42 PM, Blogger CaptnSaj said...

I've lost my trust in the Bush administration. As much as I want to believe he is trying to help our children, I can't. Bush is just too closely connected to special interest groups who would LOVE to see schools privatized so they can cash in. I really hope I am wrong, but NCLB could lead to complete privatization of education. If that happens, it would be a complete disaster - just look at our privatized health system and its utter disparities.

 
At 9:08 PM, Blogger Chaz said...

Jon may be wrong on many of the things he said but he is correct that the NEA spends too much time and money on political causes and not enough on the classroom.

As for NCLB I can't wait to see a 100% passing rate in a mainstream school. This is impossible without continued dumbing down the test until a moran can pass it.

Finally, the overemphasis on testing at the expense of science, social studies, physical education, and others is a disgrace. While I support testing, test prep after test prep at the expense of well-rounded education is unacceptable.

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Danniel John said...

Anyone can pass a test, it all comes down to effort. Does the student really want to be put in the effort to learn?

I think this is a great idea, and if you can't pass a basic high school test, god have mercy on your soul when you try and survive in the real world.

BloggersHQ.com Community for Bloggers.

 
At 9:43 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Actually it doesn't all come down to effort.

Are you picturing a 16 year old or an 8 year old? Not everyone is good at taking tests.

Kids take tests more from ages 8-14 than in high school.

In some cases you're right, but you're missing the whole picture I'm afraid. You're making it seem all cut and dry, when it really isn't.

Test questions may be poorly written, among other factors.

It really seems to me that you're looking at older kids. Picture an 8-9 year old. They take these tests too.

Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment.

Tachizuno

 
At 11:22 AM, Blogger Jon said...

What exactly am I wrong about. I talked about an actual situation at my childs school regarding the topic of NCLB and I expressed my opinion about the NEA worrying too much about politics in general and no focusing on Education matters.

I think school districts and states need to hold teachers accountable for teaching instead of blindly giving pay raises just because the regional averager exceeds what they happen to be paying their teachers. Why do these administrators feel that to make a teacher better then need to pay teachers more money? How about rewarding the teachers for accomplishing excellence in the classroom.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger MsAbcMom said...

Tachizuno:
Hi - I am new to your blog and was taken by this post. You present the issue very well.

Jon: You said "How about rewarding the teachers for accomplishing excellence in the classroom."

Here is my situation. I work in a high poverty, high crime neighborhood school where the majority of students are learning English. I choose to work where I do because I know that these kids need the best teachers and I feel that not only am I truly needed where I work but that I can make a difference in my student's lives. My students can show great growth in both reading and math as well as English language acquisition.

What is the problem then? The problem is that it doesn't matter how much growth they make, how much English they learn, what matters is the one score that they make on that test. That score doesn't take into account all of the math scores, writing samples or reading scores I gather each month on my students.

The way the tests are written, at least in California, are in a way that is not designed to test knowledge. Test questions are written either very poorly or by trying to trick students in the way that they are written. On top of that, our textbooks are not aligned with the state standards very well. We have to create a lot of our own work (most of it) to help our students to obtain mastery of state standards.

I wouldn't be "rewarded" in your system of classroom accomplishment because my test scores don't show NCLB growth. Fortunately, it is enough for me to see a non reader turn into a reader, to see a non English Speaker make great gains in their language proficiency and most importantly for my students and their parents to hug me and thank me each day for teaching them.

 
At 10:48 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Jon,

I never said you were wrong, I said that I didn't agree with you.

I think it is the job of the NEA to be involved politically. They are involved in issues in the classroom, but that is more of a state's education planning, rather than the National Education Association's issue. They have no say in a particular school's decisions.

I agree with you that teachers should be accountable for what they're doing in the classrooms. This is also a local issue, meaning the school itself needs to look at each teacher, and decide if they're doing the job or not.

I however do not agree that ONE test should be the basis of grading a school. It shouldn't be the basis of grading a student either.

and... for a four year Bachelor's degree, compare salaries of a teacher and any other degree. Add into the fact that teachers need to take classes to keep their certificates. Add into that the handful of tests they need to take to even get their certification.

I'm not griping about my pay, but for all of my schooling, I'm making much less than others that have the same amount of schooling. I just love what I do, and haven't regretted it. I know I'll never be rich, but I've got other good things that go along with my profession.

As far as rewarding for excellence. This is the same as paying for grades. I'm against it, but some people do it. ONe test, I guess on all, and get them all right. What did I prove? Just an example...

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I enjoyed reading this. The large and looming 2014 worries me. I am coming to the conclusions that whoever "they" are "they" are killing public education. The cut scores in my state for a passing score on "the" test is getting lower and lower. Kids pass who I know aren't reading on grade level. Kids that fail are still passed on even though there are stop-gates in place.

Sometimes I think the world has turned upside down.

 
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