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Old 08-28-2006, 03:49 AM   #1
Tim McFarland
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This is a tangent from the "No Child Left Out of the Dodgeball Game" thread. Please add your thoughts; I know there are other educators out there.

http://www.slate.com/id/2087654/

My thoughts on NCLB: I'm living in Montana now, but I was in Alaska when the law was passed and taught there for the last 5 years, so my thoughts are from the Alaska perspective. Alaska faces a long list of completely insurmountable obstacles from this law. For instance, one of the provisions is that secondary-level students have to be taught by a "Highly Qualified" teacher. This means that if you want to teach Math, you have to have a Math degree, if you want to teach English, you have to have an English degree, etc. Simple enough, right?

Well, no. In Alaska there are hundreds of tiny tiny bush communities - hundreds of miles off of the road system, and maybe just a couple hundred people in the town. The high school often consists of a principal, who is also carrying a full teaching load, and maybe 2 other teachers. Between the three of them, they have to have advanced degrees in Math, Science, English, History, Art, Music, Physical Education, Business, and anything else the school offers. Many of these schools have a hard time finding a warm body to fill in a position, let alone someone multiply-qualified like the law requires. Exceptions? Exemptions? Extensions? The law specifically forbids them. These schools are just f*ed.

And then there's the heavy reliance on standardized testing. These tests are the same no matter where in the country you live - hence the term "standardized" - and as such they have built-in discrimination. For example, two questions stick out in my mind that I remember my colleagues complaining about:

1. It is 3:00 pm. Is it dark?

Answer: Yes. It's January. Look out the window. Everybody got that one wrong.

2. The date is May 5th. Is there snow on the ground?

Answer: Yes. Everybody got that one wrong too.

There are questions about taxi cabs, and cows, and so on...things that people all take for granted...but a 4th grader who has never seen a taxi, or a cow, isn't going to know the stuff. It doesn't mean it's a dumb kid, or a bad school. It's just not culturally relevant. Not a single question about salmon or caribou...

One of the provisions of the law, as mentioned in the Slate article, is that you have to include minority and poor students in the testing. You also have to include all the Limited-English-Proficiency (LEP) kids, all the Autistic kids, all the Emotionally Disturbed (ED) kids, and anybody else who has an Individual Education Program (IEP) for any reason. Every one of these kids has to take the same test as everybody else. No exceptions, no exemptions, no chance they're going to pass. Doesn't make it a bad school. The ridiculous thing is, the entire point of an IEP is that the child is INCAPABLE of succeding with an un-modified academic program. That's why he has an IEP. Absolutely everything he does at school is modified to take his special needs into account. But not when it's time for the standardized testing, then he needs to step up or else.

And for those schools that are legitimately bad, well, nothing helps a failing school like LESS money and resources. Schools which don't make Adequate Yearly Progress are penalized by loss of funding. You don't have to fail in all areas, either, failing in just one area is enough. You can have everybody pass everything, except there was too many people absent that day, and therefore the school is labelled a "failing" school.
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Old 08-28-2006, 03:54 PM   #2
Lynne Pitts
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As soon as this (inevitably) gets political, it'll be closed. So tap-dance gently, please.
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:47 AM   #3
Tim McFarland
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I didn't think about that, Lynne...sorry for (potentially) opening a can of worms. There doesn't seem to be much interest from anybody else, anyway. I'm surprised - I thought there were more teachers on the board.
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Old 08-29-2006, 03:34 PM   #4
Lynne Pitts
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Maybe my preemptive strike scared 'em away... :evilsmile:
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Old 08-29-2006, 03:58 PM   #5
Lori Vescio
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Well, I'm not a teacher, so I don't feel qualified to comment on a large scale. As a parent though, any time I see the words "standardized" or "regulated," I get nervous.

At first glance, it sure seems like many kids and teachers get totally screwed by NCLB.
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Old 08-29-2006, 04:40 PM   #6
Tim Weaver
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I am definitely interested. However, since my belief is that the solution is political, it will do me no good to post my thoughts. :-)
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:09 PM   #7
Ron Nelson
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Agree

Note to Jeff Martin:
This is my semi-annual post.
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:29 PM   #8
Jeff Martin
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Gee Ron, I thought the "I hate Jeff Martin" thread over in CrossPit would bring you out of retirement.:lol:
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:58 PM   #9
Laura Rucker
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"I hate Jeff Martin" thread -- isn't that in competitions topic..."Painstorm XVII"...

Link please... ;)
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Old 09-01-2006, 01:44 PM   #10
Jeremy Jones
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There is a "I hate Jeff Martin" thread!?

Ohh man, and I have just been bashing you in my personal Journal.


10 muscle ups bastdard. . .


Ron,

I see your posts on 'THE' Nation occationally. Do those count?}}
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