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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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Optimism or Utopia?

The federal law called No Child Left Behind requires ALL children (technically around 98%) in the school to reach proficiency in Math and Reading by 2013-2014 or the local school and school district is labeled "failing." Is this realistic? Is this fair?

Well, evidently there is a growing "Expectations Gap" between the national public and the educators.

A recent poll seems to indicate that most parents believe the schools where their children attend will be able to meet this goal. However, most teachers surveyed weren't so sure that it was attainable.

Article here.

My take on it? It is possible to approach 100% proficiency on an ISTEP Math and Language test each time it is given. But, what has to be given up to get there? Will society tolerate the sacrifices necessary?

Teachers are already decrying the narrowing of curriculum. It already feels like "Math All Day and Reading All Day" especially to our elementary staff.

We are making progress in Math and Language but how much further will society tolerate the narrowing of curriculum?

Herein lies the gap between what policy makers foist upon schools and what local patrons really seem to want for their children.


Utopia? more like stupor said...

By 2014, we will be several presidential administrations away from where we are now, (for sure least one away), and the ISTA and the 49 other lobbying groups will have NCLB so erased from the federal register there won't be a trace left.

If it feels like 'all day math' and 'all day reading' to the staff now, I call shenanigans.

These teachers lack effective, motivated teaching skills. Period.

On top of that, they probably don't like teaching math or reading, and I doubt they have a clue about teaching science.

It's a pity, since the critical thinking required for science is what they need to add to the curriculum, not word search puzzles and most of the other nonsense busy work my kids bring home.

I might be getting old and cranky, but these teachers that mimic talking Barbie "math sure is hard" need some profeciency testing of their teacing abilities.

It's really unfortunate that no teacher is honestly evaluated and asked to improve their performance if by no other means than by peer review.

Even accounting firms are now accoutable for their behaviour, but not educators.

Bring me the head of an english teacher whose goal is to *fail* her students and I shall show you the problem in education!

Anonymous said...

Speaking for teachers who do teach critical thinking skills in every subject I teach, and who do not teach reading and math, while loving every minute of their ever expanding job...I am offended by your comments! I would love to see you come into a classroom and teach for one single day, keeping in mind the standards they are tested on...not the skills you feel are necessary...and of course you wouldn't mind being observed by a "non peer" since you obviously know it all!

In your short defense, I do think that some of NCLB will be repealed in due time!

Anonymous said...

It looks like “shenanigans” is indirectly proving the point that society might be reaching its limit of tolerance for the narrowing of curriculum, possibly without knowing (s)he is doing it. How long since the days of writing spelling words on the chalkboard? profeciency, accoutable, teacing, behaviour, english

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Dear utopia? more like stupor....

If you have students in this school district, then I would encourage you to immediately schedule an appointment with our teachers and give them direct feedback regarding your "talking Barbie-math sure is hard" comment. No teacher here wants to wonder if they left your child with this perception.

Saying things like "these teachers lack effective motivated teaching skills" paints them all with the same brush and that just isn't fair to anyone.

As far as NCLB goes, give me a call and I will be happy to discuss some of its pros and cons. There are both. 574-457-3188.

Mrs. R. Noble said...

As a teacher, I would like to correct some errors from earlier comments posted on this topic. It has been known for some time that students in general need more logic and critical thinking skills. This is a reason for the "math all day" push and programs like the one found in Clark County, Indiana schools, which have the three grade levels at the middle school working a math "problem of the day" and competing for prizes to those individuals who are successful. They have a "math coach" for their school to implement math programs for all teachers throughout the day. Another source of logic skills are puzzles in which some people may not find value. Not word searches, but matrix puzzles and sudoku. These offer logic skills and can be enrichment to what is done in the classroom. That is not saying that class time is nor should be spent on these items, but these are puzzles that are good to offer as enrichment. They teach logic and critical thinking.

As far as teachers having effective, motivated teaching skills, I believe everyone in this corporation does and I know that every teacher spends a great deal of time learning new methods and ways to motivate students. These are topics that are addressed and improved through our teacher workshops and in-services.
Teachers have taken proficiency testing in math, reading, and writing. It is called the Praxis I exam and is a requirement to enter any teaching program at a university. All teachers are also required to take a Praxis II exam, which is content-area specific.

Teachers also have more evaluation and requirements to improve than just peer review. To renew a teaching license, teachers must- at a minimum- take 6 credit hours of approved courses during a five year period. This is on top of the workshops and in-services done at the school, on top of review by the administration and other faculty (such as department heads), and on top of the parent scrutiny displayed in the first post. And this is a minimum. There are many teachers, especially beginning teachers, that are on a five-year program to renew their license called a Professional Growth Plan. This is an in-depth personal goal plan that requires a teacher to incorporate the INTASC principles and log their activities for those five years. They must also complete either 6 credit hours of coursework or 90 points of work. The details are expansive and the report submitted to the state is typically 14-25 pages long and requires a great deal of evidence; if you want to know what it involves you can look on the DOE website.

The point is that teachers do more work than the public knows and almost the only time we receive feedback from the community is when it is negative. No one ever looks at the ways schools are improving or trying to improve because they are too busy trying to find things that teachers and schools are not doing well. Teachers are accountable for their actions, and it is unfair for someone not in the profession to say how much teachers do or do not do to improve.

As for the last comment, if this is a problem with a teacher that you believe is trying to fail students, address the issue with that teacher. Find out what is happening in that class. Please do not generalize that all teachers do nothing because your student brought home a word search. Was that the only work he or she did for that unit? Or was it enrichment to expose them to the words? Did you ask the teacher why a word search was assigned? Talking to the teacher would be the first source of information for a parent. If the answers are not found there, then seek other sources. Dr. Stock has posted the phone number for the central office in the previous post, and is very willing to help.

We, as professionals, are held accountable every day in a variety of ways. Like the accounting firms that were referenced, we are expected to be accountable and to constantly improve and expand our skills. The difference between the business world and the education world is that most businesses only publish or make known their positive accomplishments and results. All results for education are known. From published ISTEP scores to students' grades to information about every teacher being public record (as far as degrees, education, and years of experience), teaching is a profession that is constantly public. That is the difference. Most people do not know if a business does one thing poorly, because only the parts that are positive are released. Everyone knows every part of educational results- good or bad. It is unfortunate that the only part that gets attention is the bad.