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What's Wrong with NCLB?

I like the article linked below because it states clearly what someone considers serious issues with the No Child Left Behind federal law (NCLB). Most of it I agree with. Notice the person doesn't blame the parents (although there is blame there) or other things out of the control of the school system.

I'm not sure about the special ed part. I can go with the no sanctions if the students don't make progress with their peers but they bloody hell should be tested against peers to see if they are catching up or actually regressing. At least parents should know. All the "developmentally appropriate" testing can actually mask teaching and curriculum problems and I don't see how that is going to help ALL special ed kids, especially the many that can catch up with their grade appropriate peers.

Firstly, the article brings to light the thoughts of the Montana superintendent:

"I would like to see someone who has the guts to say, 'Let's take one thing. Let's make sure our students can do it before we go on to the next,'" she said.

Interesting. I had never thought of that but I like it. Simple. Not sure what happens if the state is still not able to get 100%, 90%, shoot, even 80% of their students reading at grade level. I can honestly see school districts just floating out there with 70% of their kids not reading at grade level. My son's school has been working up to 70% for years and they get lots of special funding. Of course nobody points out the elephant in the room - what curriculum do you use and how do you get bilingual students efficient in English quickly?

I love this part. I can just see a Montana superintendent saying this with a drawl and guns strapped to her hips:

One of the things that drove her crazy was the area of highly qualified teachers, she said. Many rural schools don't have school districts so big that the teachers spend all day teaching government. They typically teach social studies, history, and government.

But a teacher instructing in four subjects would have to get four degrees under the law. "Truly, how many parents in Montana want to send their children to college long enough to get four majors, and come out and make $19,000?" she asked.

I can't argue with that. Maybe change it so that the social sciences are grouped but keep the math and sciences separate. So a person with a biology degree can still teach other science classes like chemistry. Just throwing it out there...

Now the following quote is a little troubling. I would have hoped that Montana has heard of distance education. If not, they need to get cracking:

Even the logistics of becoming highly qualified in one subject are difficult, she pointed out. Teachers in Sydney who wish to attend the University of Montana to take the required classes must make an 11-hour drive. "It doesn't make any sense," she said. "For the most part, they weren't thinking about a large rural area."

Here's one on special ed:

The reauthorization should also relax the requirements for special education teacher certification, she said. Educators expected conflicts with No Child Left Behind to be resolved when the Individual Disability Education Act was reauthorized, but they weren't.

Not sure what they are referring to. I do know that a special ed teacher can't teach regular ed under the new degree programs. Not sure how much grandfathering there is but it doesn't make a lick of sense to me. You'd think that if a teacher can teach special ed they be even better at teaching regular ed kids but what do I know?

Here, Linda, the superintendent, brings to light the fact that test scores should follow the student:

Using a single test taken at one time of the year to determine whether a school makes its Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) seems ridiculous, Linda said. She said schools should use multiple tests, compare test scores from year to year to spot trends, and consider other measures, such as graduation rates.

I don't know of a more "duh" thing. NCLB is not just about tracking race but also about individual students. Doesn't that get lost in the shuffle if the improvement in their individual scores aren't tracked? What a mess if a school district re-partitions the school boundaries - how is that accounted for? Our school district moved an entire Life Skills class from one school to another one year (not that it has anything to do with this as those students take very different tests under the 1% allowance). Did the district split each student in the life skills class into their respective school? Or did the students belong to the "district" thus not bringing down any single school in the district? In other words, did the students in the life skills class not belong to a school?

Standardized testing is needed. It is the only thing that helps parents and the education system analyze areas that need improvement. By tracking improvements of individual students, you can see where the student was failed and by whom.