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Old 03-03-2005, 07:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fatal Flaw in "No Child Left Behind Act"

All you guys on the left need to sit down and catch your breath. Yes it is me, nobody has hijacked my computer, and I am speaking out against NCLB.

Background: Out of concern for the quality of education my daughter was receiving, we took every last penny we had and moved to an affluent neighborhood with an excellent school district (the best in the state of Colorado actually). The difference in the education she is receiving now, compared with what she was getting, is tremendous. Curriculum requirements for her new school are way ahead of the requirements from her old district. She is doing tremendous now, every day I am amazed at how much she has learned--it makes the financial burden well worth while.

On to my point....

So I get a letter from the school district today regarding NCLB.

The school cannot reach the 100% proficiency required in reading and math, and they are now going through a "Program Improvement" process to help the district meet the needs set forth by the NCLB act.

Why?

Because they lump the regular kids in with the special needs kids (my daughter is special needs) in their assessment tests.

I may not be a rocket scientist, but I know better than to compare a kid in normal enrollment with a kid in special education. Guess what? The reason the school district didn't meet requirements? The kids in special ed. couldn't test as high as the other kids and threw off the curve.

Y'all know my support of the President. But this is his baby and this little part of the act is just dumb. I would really like a word with the "scholars" and "advisors" who helped add this little nugget of wisdom into the act.

This has actually inspired me to become even more involved in my daughter's school and to help the district correct this flaw in NCLB.

There are a lot of aspects of NCLB that I like....this is not one of them
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:11 PM   #2 (permalink)
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You know that I'm coming from the left, KMA, but there's not too much inherently wrong about NCLB. I mean, I disagree with much of it, but I disagree with most Democrats about education policy as well. NCLB is mostly pretty standard stuff, and a lot of it has been tried in various states over the years on their own. NCLB's biggest problem has been that Bush passed it so that he can say he cares about education, and then severely underfunded it: the high requirements were then left for schools not receiving the money they needed.

This practice of listing all kids' results together is clearly wrong, and I wish you the best of luck in getting it changed.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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KMA...my mom teaches english as a second langauge...and its a similar deal. her kids are discouraged from taking the standardized tests they need to graduate, because their scores bring down the schools NCLB score. it's a silly little game...when it's known what makes kids learn. you lower class sizes, and employ well trained teachers, and support with a good infrastructure. NCLB doesn't seem to address those concerns adequatly, but instead engages in some often useless number making/analysis, as you point out.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The flaw in the NCLB is that it was enacted. If the GOPers in Congress had the nads, they would rightfully repeal the law and abolish the Dept of Ed all together. But don't count on that, considering they don;t have the balls to alter Senate rules in order to get a proper up or down vote on judges. They still act like they're the minority party who were just happy to be able to sit in on committee hearings. Fucking clowns.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The main problem is that they enacted it, but didn't fund it. You can't expect schools to undertake an expensive program without any help from the government if the government is the one making them undertake it. Stupid.
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakran
The main problem is that they enacted it, but didn't fund it. You can't expect schools to undertake an expensive program without any help from the government if the government is the one making them undertake it. Stupid.
I disagree with you on this. Money is being pumped into the system (CLICK HERE FOR HISTORICAL FUNDING INFO), and we keep pumping more and more into the system.

In my case, you have a school district that performs very, very well. However, their rating goes down because all kids (low income/special needs/etc.) get lumped together for the assessment.

In other words, if it wasn't for my daughter (and kids like her--she isn't severe however) the school would get higher marks and would not need to have this improvement program. It's sad, because this is a really, really good school district with amazing teachers, they need to be recognized for that.

Like guy44 said, NCLB isn't a terrible idea and at least you have to give credit for someone actually trying something, but I really think they need to change how the kids are tested--not remove the testing, because we do need to have a set of guidelines in place--but maybe institute a level of testing.

I would love to see the DoE go away, and while you are at it, take the NEA with you.

However, it won't happen, so I chose to fight the battles where I might actually have a chance of making a difference.
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Old 03-03-2005, 08:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMA-628
All you guys on the left need to sit down and catch your breath. Yes it is me, nobody has hijacked my computer, and I am speaking out against NCLB.

Background: Out of concern for the quality of education my daughter was receiving, we took every last penny we had and moved to an affluent neighborhood with an excellent school district (the best in the state of Colorado actually). The difference in the education she is receiving now, compared with what she was getting, is tremendous. Curriculum requirements for her new school are way ahead of the requirements from her old district. She is doing tremendous now, every day I am amazed at how much she has learned--it makes the financial burden well worth while.

On to my point....

So I get a letter from the school district today regarding NCLB.

The school cannot reach the 100% proficiency required in reading and math, and they are now going through a "Program Improvement" process to help the district meet the needs set forth by the NCLB act.

Why?

Because they lump the regular kids in with the special needs kids (my daughter is special needs) in their assessment tests.

I may not be a rocket scientist, but I know better than to compare a kid in normal enrollment with a kid in special education. Guess what? The reason the school district didn't meet requirements? The kids in special ed. couldn't test as high as the other kids and threw off the curve.

Y'all know my support of the President. But this is his baby and this little part of the act is just dumb. I would really like a word with the "scholars" and "advisors" who helped add this little nugget of wisdom into the act.

This has actually inspired me to become even more involved in my daughter's school and to help the district correct this flaw in NCLB.

There are a lot of aspects of NCLB that I like....this is not one of them

Thank you for showing this level of care for your child.....you have my respect.
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCB
The flaw in the NCLB is that it was enacted. If the GOPers in Congress had the nads, they would rightfully repeal the law and abolish the Dept of Ed all together.
I agree entirely. I am somewhat a product of the prototype of this program they ran in Texas. The tests are absurdly easy, but then again, I was in the "affluent" school district (according to NY Times). The teachers take a week or two before the test to teach the test.

I don't know how beneficial this would be in the inner city and rural areas. Everyone I know scored in the 97+ percentile. I guess the goal is to identify problems and have accountability, but if a teacher can get kids to pass these things, I would get my kids the fuck out of that school district as fast as I could.

NCLB may identify problems, but I see little in how it is supposed to fix them.

Last edited by retsuki03; 03-03-2005 at 11:21 PM..
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Old 03-04-2005, 11:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tecoyah
Thank you for showing this level of care for your child.....you have my respect.
Thanks for the comment, it was appreciated.
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Old 03-04-2005, 12:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I am teacher and I say good for this act. Before the NCLB act special ed kids were left to the whims of the school. Now they have a standard they have to meet. Before they could sit and drool and nothing was expected of them. Now the schools have to try and teach them as much as they can. This is a good thing
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Old 03-04-2005, 01:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnBua
I am teacher and I say good for this act. Before the NCLB act special ed kids were left to the whims of the school. Now they have a standard they have to meet. Before they could sit and drool and nothing was expected of them. Now the schools have to try and teach them as much as they can. This is a good thing
I agree they need a standard, but to use the same standard for every type of student doesn't make any sense.
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:12 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMA-628
I disagree with you on this. Money is being pumped into the system (CLICK HERE FOR HISTORICAL FUNDING INFO), and we keep pumping more and more into the system.
I think one of the primary problems is the way that money is spent. I don't think that professional educators know what will improve learning (at the level of questions regarding money spent where). They aren't trained to do research examining variables across large groups of students, teachers, and schools.

Studies I have seen demonstrate that low student teacher ratios, computers in the classroom, etc. don't improve student performance. One of the few school related variables that affects student performance is the verbal intelligence of the teacher (A result demonstrated in the Coleman Report).

Money certainly helps, but I would put it toward hiring smarter teachers. In my experience, grade school and high school teachers are either brilliant saints or not-so-bright slackers. Increase the salaries of teachers across the board. The field will become more competitive, resulting in more intelligent, more effective teachers. Bright, caring college students who would have otherwise gone into other higher paying professions will consider education.

EDIT: Here's an interesting summary of several studies examing teacher and student performance. It was written for the Texas legislature, but it's conclusions could be applied to education across the country. PDF

Last edited by sapiens; 03-04-2005 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
Money certainly helps, but I would put it toward hiring smarter teachers. In my experience, grade school and high school teachers are either brilliant saints or not-so-bright slackers. Increase the salaries of teachers across the board. The field will become more competitive, resulting in more intelligent, more effective teachers. Bright, caring college students who would have otherwise gone into other higher paying professions will consider education.
[/URL]

Excellent post. I couldn't agree more. Letting in a little bit of market economics can do wonders
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
Money certainly helps, but I would put it toward hiring smarter teachers. In my experience, grade school and high school teachers are either brilliant saints or not-so-bright slackers. Increase the salaries of teachers across the board. The field will become more competitive, resulting in more intelligent, more effective teachers. Bright, caring college students who would have otherwise gone into other higher paying professions will consider education.
I agree as well. Teachers are either awesome or abismally underqualified. That is where the main problems have been for years. We need to get more bright and talented individuals as teachers. I would love to teach, but I have this habit that keeps me from teaching, its called paying my bills.
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMA-628
I agree they need a standard, but to use the same standard for every type of student doesn't make any sense.
They are not held to the same standard.
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Old 03-06-2005, 12:42 PM   #16 (permalink)
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The main problem I see with NCLB is the rediculous exclusive use of standardized tests to somehow judge wether or not a school is teaching it's kids, and if they aren't doing well on the tests they obviously aren't good teachers. This is bullshit. Instead of actual learning and thinking, students are taught only what will give the school district good marks.

Learning can't be standardized and learning doesn't happen the same for every single kid. It's terribly unfair to assume that teachers alone are responsible for the school's "success". Of course urban areas are going to do worse if Johnny Testtaker has to walk through warzones and drug deals on his way home from school only to find his mom has to work late and he has to take care of his younger siblings, instead of riding his bike through the suburbs to do his homework before his mommy and daddy will let him play.
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Old 03-07-2005, 07:32 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz
The main problem I see with NCLB is the rediculous exclusive use of standardized tests to somehow judge wether or not a school is teaching it's kids, and if they aren't doing well on the tests they obviously aren't good teachers. This is bullshit. Instead of actual learning and thinking, students are taught only what will give the school district good marks
Standardized tests are there to protect students' education, not hurt it. You need some kind of outcome to measure, some kind of accountability. Otherwise, school districts could totally screw their students and blame it on something like the neighborhood.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz
Learning can't be standardized and learning doesn't happen the same for every single kid.
Are you suggesting that it is impossible to develop standard methods to teach groups children? Because if that is the case, our educational system is entirely screwed. We'll have to get a teacher for each student.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz
It's terribly unfair to assume that teachers alone are responsible for the school's "success".
Myself, I was never assuming anything. I was drawing a conclusion based on evidence. My solution didn't seem terribly unfair to teachers either. "Increase the salaries of teachers across the board" does not sound too unfair to teachers.
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Old 03-07-2005, 05:38 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Standardized tests are there to protect students' education, not hurt it. You need some kind of outcome to measure, some kind of accountability. Otherwise, school districts could totally screw their students and blame it on something like the neighborhood.
I agree that standardized tests need to be used as benchmarks for the schools themselves. The problem comes from when the government assumes that good standardized test scores = learning, then puts funding at stake for schools who happen to do poorly on those tests. Standardized test scores are nothing but a measure of how well you've beaten kids over the head with the test information. One standardized test score tells us nothing about learning just like one IQ test score isn't the exclusive measure of intelligence, nor does it measure your full potentional.

Quote:
Are you suggesting that it is impossible to develop standard methods to teach groups children? Because if that is the case, our educational system is entirely screwed. We'll have to get a teacher for each student.
Yes, a good teacher does not stand up and teach for one type of student and if children do not understand material a good teacher will figure out what exactly will make the connection for the kid and the material. There are as many different learning styles as there are children in a classroom.

As for my comment on responsibility of teachers, it makes more sense in the context of my original post. I was trying to make the point that the parents have to take some responsibility, and that environmental factors do play a part in learning. Mainly I would like to see more responsibility placed on the kids themselves. If they do poorly on a test and you look and see that they are D students with poor work ethic who don't even try do succeed in school they should be held reponsible; compared to a kid who tries his best and comes in after class to get help but truly cannot understand the material because it is being taught poorly.
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Old 03-07-2005, 08:15 PM   #19 (permalink)
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KMA, could you be a little more specific? Perhaps post a link to your district's NCLB report card? Does Colorado already require 100% of students scoring at Advanced+Proficient on their assessments in Reading and Math, because NCLB doesn't require 100% until 2013-14. In PA, only 35% and 45% of students need to score Advanced+Proficient in Reading and Math - that goes up next year.

The "Program Improvement" option doesn't kick in unless the school (or district) in question failed to meet AYP levels for 2 consecutive years, correct? If so, did they fail in the same area? A funny thing about AYP is that it isn't necessarily all about reading and math scores. One of the schools in PA that I work for failed to meet AYP because of substandard performance in the ATTENDANCE area! That landed them in what is called "School Improvement I".

We have actually used that designation to help us land grant funds for the district, and school administrators have been told to embrace the School Improvement I as an opportunity - because NCLB requires a plan that will address ALL areas, not just the Attendance area that landed them there in the first place.

Our evaluation guy is always reminding our principals that meeting AYP, especially for our economic disadvantaged and special ed student subgroups, is possible (at least for us) by focusing on the easiest to bring up to the next category up in scoring. AYP is an arcane formula that I barely grasp, but if you get there, you can stave off sanctions from Dept of Ed.

I strongly suspect that I have not done a good job here in explaining NCLB as I see it, but I don't even have 2 years under my belt in public school admin yet, so please forgive me!
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Old 03-07-2005, 08:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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PM me with your email address and I will send a scan of the letter from the district.

I have two different letters. One from our district and one from the Colorado DoE.

The only reason the district didn't make "AYP" (Adequate Yearly Progress) was because the special ed students didn't pass the test(s).

Failure to achieve AYP (2nd time): District must implement a School Improvement plan and provide transportation for students to a high performing school.

Failure to achieve AYP (3rd year): In addition to the above, the school must also provide supplemental services for low performing/low income students

Failure to achieve AYP (4th year): "Corrective action and then restructuring plans"

--from the Colorado DoE letter.

From the district letter:

Percentage of students unable to meet "federally mandated targets" - .006% - All disabled.

NCLB District Accountability Data - AYP Middle Level

AYP - Frequently Asked Questions
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Last edited by KMA-628; 03-07-2005 at 08:42 PM..
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:09 PM   #21 (permalink)
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As would be expected Colorado does things a little differently than Pennsy. It does kinda suck though, doesn't it. We have other districts around the one that I work for that actually "farm out" their special ed kids...we're not certain how they are able to get away with that one!
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:16 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I really like how our district "handles" special ed--almost all special ed students are mainstreamed.

Like I mentioned earlier, my daughter falls under "special ed", but she spends the majority of her time in a normal class. For a few hours a day she then goes to the "learning lab".

In the long run, it is better for all.

In the mornings, when my daughter gets to school, a couple of her classmates voluntarily help her out. From what I am told, that kind of attention goes on throughout the day.

I think this helps the "short bus" attitude many of us had when we were young.
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Old 03-08-2005, 02:49 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I believe that the district I work for is now moving towards a mainstreaming model. Glad to hear that it works for you and your family!
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