NCLB Rantings

A great injustice to our schools is found in the NCLB act and the
pressure it puts on the schools to improve based solely on a once a year score
and a few other data points. Yes, there is some validity to the scores, yet
these are not authentic assessments tied directly to the curriculum, for that
student and for the content, which he or she has learned that year. The act
does not account for students who have learning gaps. Scores for calculations
are used to devalue teachers efforts in the classroom because students don’t
reach proficiency. The act narrows the number of students to a few compared to
the whole in how achievement is calculated. Therefore, it does not look at the
programs at the school in a comprehensive manner. In fact, I recommend the
accreditation process, conducted by regional associations, be the main way that
schools earn an evaluative score. The accreditation process is thorough
and all-inclusive of much data, it is a collaborative self-observation and followed with a visitor observations.

When it comes to teacher evaluation, there is no measure of the
hours and hours of classroom work where teachers spend time in
remediation with students on a daily basis. Many of these students are far
behind in the curriculum and yet a teacher must work the miracles to bring them
up to proficiency in the short year or less this teacher has with them.
Additionally, administrators tie teacher evaluations to a one-time proficiency
score.

For high schools, there are other factors, which are significant
injustices and do not address student achievement across the board. For
example, to calculate AYP for our schools, only a cohort of sophomore students
are part of the AYP calculations each year. We can be doing all the right
things for all the students at our school, the other three grades scores can be
through the roof fantastic, yet this does not factor in the calculations.

We learn in our trainings that authentic assessments are better
for our students. Are they not better for evaluating a school? The
accreditation process conducted by a region association account for this and
therefore, the accreditation team looks at all aspects of the school to
evaluate how effectively the school is working on an improvement plan. The team
looks at data, more comprehensive data than just scores from one test, and data
which when collectively analyzed and presented by the school in a
self-appraisal, examines student achievement from all angles. The school and
then the visiting team gather data from all stakeholders in various
collaborative sessions.

All these factors I’ve discussed, students who are far behind in
their learning, teacher evaluations based on test scores, only scores for
selected students used in calculations of AYP, and tests that are not authentic
assessments, when put together under the umbrella of NCLB, lead to an unjust way of evaluating schools. I suggest we use regional accreditation as the means of
assessing a school. The accreditation process is an authentic and broad
self-study, conducted at first by the school, and then verified by observations by a
visiting team of professionals who are in the business of education.

CynthiaDeMone

11-9-11

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One thought on “NCLB Rantings

  1. I think the effect of NCLB is No Class Left Better. Teaching to tests is not good teaching. It takes time away from really exploring the course’s core objectives, personalizing a course to individual student needs, and developing other important student skills like critical thinking.

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