The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Getting NCLB right

Many readers have heard about the law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This law replaces the "soft bigotry of low expectations" (a phrase used a lot by NCLB supporters) with the "hard bigotry of impossible expectations."

The law requires every school in America to achieve 100% proficiency among all student groups on state assessments like ISTEP by the school year 2013-2014. Schools that fail to meet this target will be labeled "failing" and will have sanctions or consequences. The consequences aren't as severe as they sound although the final step is that state could take your system over. They wouldn't know what to do with them if they had them. Proponents of more local control (me) might say they already control most of it now. :-)

Here is a short movie cartoon about "getting NCLB right" this time when the law is up for reauthorization by congress. The cartoon is put out by the American Federation of Teachers.

Click here.


Anonymous said...

I guess I see a problem on a national, state and local level. NCLB is obviously well out of realistic expectations (although in other states I know that they are alot closer than we are), Indiana has adopted a test, which in my opinion, is not designed to have every child pass.

But let's take a look at the local level. After meeting at an inservice yesterday my colleagues and I feel that we do a lot of things here, but we don't do anything well. Case in point...we do accelerated math 30 minutes (work time) a day, 15 minutes of computerized facts practice, and Saxon math. To my knowledge that is about 1-1/2 to 2 hours MOST days. Problem is even with that much instruction my students still can't do 40 multiplication facts in a minute with accuracy. Reading tends to be a little better, however the closer 2013-2014 gets the farther behind we fall, and the more time we will devote to reading skills.

Maybe it is time to prioritize what programs we want to pursue and work at doing them well. Am I saying there is one silver bullet answer, no way! I would like to think however, that we could pin point the best curriculum and supplement program.

In the end, we could take a lesson from the old saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

You have correctly hit on the biggest issue of all. Namely that we do so many things that it is hard to do them all equally well.

That is why teachers are focusing even more time on Math, Reading and Writing then they used to, including using a variety of tools, methods and even "programs." These are the skills our community told us they wanted.

But....the programs should serve us, not us serving the programs. Sometimes it feels like that's backwards I know. Contact one of the instructional coaches or myself for a discussion about it) If the tools need adjustments based on your students' needs (Can't do 40 multiplication facts in one minute sure sounds like it might fit.) then the programs need to reflect that adjustment.

Good luck. Call me for a discussion I would enjoy talking with you about it.

You are not alone I am sure.

Anonymous said...

I think you may have read the first comment wrong. It was from a teacher not a parent.

Anyway, I think it may be the mentality of many in charge at Wawasee that there is a "product" that will make all our students succeed. We "buy" into the sales pitch of the Renaissance company and think the "product" will teach our kids.

WE need to believe in our teachers and let them bring strong instructional practice into the classroom. We will never have children performing at the level they could as long as we rely on scripted math lessons, a generic reading book that is in no way connected to our student's lives, and computer generated math and reading assessments.

I see neighboring schools doing real investigation into best practice as we "buy" things to fix our problems. I think it would be interesting to see survey results of how many parents believe that their children enjoy reading more or less after the AR program. In fact I would challenge you to distribute a survey to parents on their opinion of how we are doing.

I hope the administration soon realizes that your greatest resource are the teachers and their differences. Please don't try to make them all fit into a cookie cutter mold.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

I would agree with you. No product will "teach" our children. However, as you know there are critical teaching behaviors found in best practice that are absolutely essential no matter what materials are used.

Your adminstrators here didn't personally choose the materials you reference. I am sure there is a variety of opinions even among them. But when numerous school improvement committees identified these interventions in several of their NCA plans they have tried to implement them. Next year is their documentation year when we evaluate them to see if they have improved our students skills in the goal areas. School committees will then determine how or whether to continue them.

I have yet to find a set of materials, curriculum, methodology or even a program that everyone likes let alone agree if it works!

Even when we do textbook adoption which would seem pretty straight forward - teachers often end up in split decisions over the materials to use.

There are parents and teachers on both sides of this one as you can tell!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I understand that a school improvement team or some committee will look at the data over the past six years and see how far we have come as a school. However, I think that is misleading... yes we learn how did did as a school, but I think we will see how it has done with the middle and upper kids more than the lower.

I truly believe that the programs we have in place now are effective, and will show growth for most of our students, at the expense of a few. See, the programs are designd for the student who is self-motivated and disciplined enough. These are also the students who are rarely at risk, and like I said that is the majority of our students.

The problem lies, that the numbers will say the school is improving, but the students who are at risk, who aren't going to put the time and energy in, and who don't care are going to slip through the cracks. I realize that it is my job to teach them, inspire them, motivate them, and coach them, but I can't take them outside of school into the real world, sadly sometimes I can't do it in my own classroom.

In essence these programs simply create the "haves" and the "have nots". Yes I think the data will be positive when you look at the whole, but I also sure that if you look on an individual basis you would be surised at what you see.

Hopefully, I am wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

In my humble but definitely cynical opinion, No Child Left A Dime, pardon me Behind simply works backward. I am a parent with very sensitive views about the type of education my children will and do receive. I happen to generally think that is a great thing. How does a governmental body expect to place demands and measurements of year-to-year progress, based on previous testing methods and not see that maybe those methods are flawed? Or not even investigate new methods to use?

I have to say I am not in anyway a proponent of neither the ISTEP process nor the test itself. Every high school senior in the 90’s can tell you that Sculch is Junk, a Baloo is a Bear and a Yonker is a Young Man. Boy, I can tell you, how invaluable these tools were to my real world education. Why, these words come up so often in everyday conversation, I owe my vernacular skills to ISTEP. (Yes major eye rolling there.)

My major complaint simply is this: In what realm of common sense is it a good idea to penalize schools for falling behind? Oh, this system that is generally populated by poor under-privileged families or minorities is slacking, I know, let’s cut their funding. Boy, that will teach them! Seriously, am I the only parent is outraged by all of this?

We want to jump head first into the next millennium, let us not do it by candlelight, but rather by huge bolts of electric progress!