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Is it realistic to have 100 percent of children in public school reading and doing math at their grade level?

Asked at Checkers, 2300 La. on February 14, 2005

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Photo of Anja Ford

“I think it is a realistic goal for regular education, but not for special education.”

Photo of Liz Bennett

“I don’t know if it is realistic right away, but it is possible if they start a new program when the kids are in kindergarten. Then they can achieve that goal.”

Photo of Paula Koch

“I think it’s unrealistic. I think it’s a good goal, but not a practical one.”

Photo of Marty Gish

“No, because all kids develop at a different level.”

Comments

Curious 9 years, 2 months ago

I found this in my hometown paper and particularly noted the last sentence. There was no complaining in the entire article. How refreshing!

"The ELL program will usually exit a student after three to eight years. Their ability to learn English depends on the students' academic backgrounds, their educational environments, their literacy skills in their own language, the support they receive at home and their age when they first come to the United States, Taylor said.

"There are some kids that will exit in a couple of years and some that will never exit," Taylor added. "I won't pass a student if they pass all of the tests, but don't have the confidence to communicate.""

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Curious 9 years, 2 months ago

The answer to the question depends on how difficult the tests are. 100% of 2+2 and 2+1 in first grade is achievable. 100% of 2x2 and 10x4 in second grade is achievable.

Holding students back when they don't know the basics seems appropriate to me. I would like - in a large school like Lawrence - to see some kids in first grade for 1 and a half years, etc. They do need to learn the material in order to make progress in the following years.

Some students are "mainstreamed." If they are there for social interaction and to teach children to get along, maybe we need to place them in a "grade category" that fits their needs.

When teachers teach to the test they are not helping their students do better on the test! They are shortchanging everyone! Our school district, outside of Lawrence, looked at the criteria of No Child Left Behind and said "that's what we have been about for years." They didn't throw up their hands in defeat before they started.

Also, if you don't want the control from outside you better give up the money from outside! Kansas schools started falling apart, physically and otherwise, when the people decided they didn't want local control anymore. For a few extra dollars they sold their soul.

Power follows the money -- and money follows the power.

Kansas got just what it, and other states, asked for! Complain all you want - the solution is to go back to local taxes and not worry about Johnson County spending more on its schools than western Kansas schools can - or vice versa Take some money from the general fund to ensure a basic education to the poorest districts.

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Swamphawk 9 years, 2 months ago

I think we have a serious lack of natural selection. Not all jobs require their workers to learn everything well. It is very hard to force a student to learn when he/she doesn't want to learn. People try to compare us to other countries and their educational performances but you don't see all of their results. For example, in Japan students that are not performing well leave school earlier. This allows for higher scores among the kids that are left. The students that don't want to go on should not be forced.

However, I think we should try to get the most possible to continue and do well. 100% should be a goal, not a requirement.

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Redneckgal 9 years, 2 months ago

I think 100% is unrealistic for a lot of kids. It puts a lot of unneeded stress on the kids and the teachers. My daughter who just graduated last year could work at 100% without even thinking about it. Learning just comes easily to her. My son on the other hand struggles with about any subject that comes out of a book. He can build about anything and at 15 he can already do work on a car that a lot of grown men can't do. But as far as book learning its hard for him. He likes school and he likes his teachers and he is not lazy or dumb. But I think its unfair to him and his teachers both that they expect every child to work at 100% on every subject.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

Either way, it sounds like people have some strong sentiments on this topic...and that couldn't make me any happier.

I actually have an IEP meeting to attend and a SPED reconfiguration meeting afterward to address how to incorporate our special needs students in the general education curriculum appropriately (great timing eh!).

Great topic and responses! Happy Valentine's Day all!

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

This is a very sore subject.

I want them 100% included in the general education environment.

But don't tie our federal funding to their academic success, when it may unreachable.

I see my students discriminated against day-after-day by their general education teachers. Then to assume they can reach 100% is just wrong in this teaching environment is just wrong.

This is a very sensitive subject for me as well. I guess "i tell it like it is" hit my nerve here as well.

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Redneckgal 9 years, 2 months ago

So Jayhawk226 What do you propose we do with all these special ed kids? Go back to the old days and have them "educated" in the state hospitals until there 18? And if you feel that way about them what the heck are you doing working in that field anyway? Sorry sore subject. I work with adults with mr/dd and most are far from totally uneducable and ignorant.

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kns 9 years, 2 months ago

r_u, I mean that the Xanax might be good for the teachers! (Xanax is supposedly a stress/anxiety reliever, or so I've been told. I don't take the stuff, myself.)

I know some people who work in the teaching profession....and from all that I have heard, teaching can be very stressful nowadays!---For a variety of reasons! Whether it's because of test scores, dealing with unruly kids, dealing with kids that have special needs, or simply having to deal with know-it-all teachers and/or administrators and parents alike!

Teaching has always been a fulfilling and rewarding profession. It's just that nowadays it can also be very stressful and anxiety-ridden.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

tell it...

Perhaps you ought to scroll up and reread the part of me being a special education teacher--to be more detailed, for students with learning disabilities and mental retardation.

I have "told it as it is." I teach students that are unfortunately uneducable and ignorant, at least of the expectations set forth in other to maintain my district's AYP and No Child Left Behind mandates.

I will always be vocal and outspoken against a structure that is not equitable for all. And why you assume a teacher calls the parent and student rotten is just absurd. What is rotten is having opinions with no solutions or offerings to mend a problem.

A negative, broad blanket statement (such as the many you have already laid out in this thread) is actually enough for me to define you uneducable and ignorant as well.

Having a brain is great to derive opinions, even if they are wrong. But for the sake of my students, don't waste your brain by not coming up with substantiated evidence and offerings to further help our society and education system.

Fingering the teachers as the guilty party is blaming firemen for not saving an entire house...or the doctor for not doing enough to save a life.

Give me a break!

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tell_it_like_it_is 9 years, 2 months ago

Jayhawk226....uneducable and ignorant? Well your just what I want teaching my kids with that attitude! I think you just made my point. Not only are they and their parents rotten their all uneducable and ignorant to boot. Actually I don't just assume that all teachers are bad I had some great ones and so have my kids it just seems to me that the ones who tend be the most vocal about complaining also happen to be the most worthless.

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remember_username 9 years, 2 months ago

kns - is the xanax for the teachers or the kids?

tell_it_like_it_is - do you have a proposal to fix the problem? Do you think there is no problem? Do you think there is a "excuse" that is not "lame" but applicable, or were you just sounding off?

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

Teachers have wisened up...

...we have realized that we educate an uneducable and ignorant population. And when our federal and state funding is tied to educate the uneducable and ignorant--well, now we have a problem.

Don't blame one or two bad teachers that you had in the course of your education career, which has clearly made you jaded, cynical and apt to "tell it as it is" to assume we all whine about rotten parents and kids.

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tell_it_like_it_is 9 years, 2 months ago

All expecting 100% is going to do is give the teachers one more damn thing to whine about. I get tired of hearing about all the rotten little kids and all the rotten parents all the rotten politicians and the rotten school buildings and on and on there is an excuse for everything. Someday people are going to wise up and get tired of all the lame excuses.

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kns 9 years, 2 months ago

r_u, I think I can answer that question for Jayhawk......

Lots and lots of prescription Xanax!!!!

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remember_username 9 years, 2 months ago

Jayhawk226, 3-5 year burn-out? So what would it take to retain good teachers beyond that period?

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

wichita--

Thank you very much for the empathy and kind words.

I'm not going to lie, it is a very tough aspect of teaching, in an already tough career.

I hope I prosper beyond the 3-5 year burn-out rating! ; )

Happy Valentine's Day all!

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wichita_reader 9 years, 2 months ago

Jayhawk226: My little sister is a special ed teacher, and I spent about six months as an undergraduate working as a program trainer to try to educate and train mentally handicapped adults for the work force.

I applaud your hard work and efforts.

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

I welcome any politician (a lay-individual of TEACHING) to visit my classroom and school any day of the week.

Upon visiting my classroom, and maybe even attempting my job for but three hours, then make educational legislation...

...and to tie the federal and state funds to this 100% compliance expectation. Oh lord, I'm only 25...can I retire now?!!?

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squishypoet 9 years, 2 months ago

The No Child Left Behind act is rediculously stupid. Ask any student, and they'll agree. Ask any teacher, and they'll give you a list of the reasons why. It's just like standardized testing... teachers have to focus too hard on reaching these irrelevant goals and don't have enough time to actually teach the students. They're just prepping them to "score well" for the school.

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Merkin 9 years, 2 months ago

Is this a realistic question? Come on !!! Brigng back the Reader reaction. God Bless President Bush!!

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wichita_reader 9 years, 2 months ago

Good goal, but not at all realistic.

I think the goal might have some harmful side effects. My wife and several of our friends (whom I admire greatly, I might add), teach in our "wanting" and "deplorable" public school system, and it is their opinion that the 100% achievement rate encourages teachers to teach to the exam, so their students make the test score, rather than actually teaching the subject matter.

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remember_username 9 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Ms. Ford. It is possible but I don't believe the effort to address the problem was sufficient. We cannot simply abandon the public school system because it is broken we must fix it. After we have fixed the problems then we can explore other avenues such as vouchers for those parents who are still unsatisfied with the public system. Unfortunately, the No Child Left Behind program does not take into account the one factor that changes everything.

I deal with college kids every day and to tell you the truth I can't tell which ones were home-schooled and which were not. I do ask and have come to one solid conclusion. The best adjusted, best performing kids come from formal schools (both public and private) AND they lived in homes where the parents were involved with the education of their children. The critical factor was always the parents - not the schools.

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Christy_K 9 years, 2 months ago

It is an unrealistic expectation because of human nature, I agree. All you can do is provide students the opportunity to succeed, but it is up to the student to actually do the work. How to fix it?

Give teachers the authority they deserve. Many teachers are leaving the profession because parents are bailing out underachieving students by whining to the school board. Poor student performance, in my experience, is often more to blame than poor teachers.

Equal funding regardless of what school you attend. School vouchers are NOT the answer. We all know they will turn into welfare for the upper middle class to send their kids to elite schools and allow the average public school to degrade into nothing. The elite don't want a highly educated work force. Vouchers would take money meant for all students and funnel it to a select few. Besides what good is a voucher for a child that lives no where near private schools. Public schools are the best answer because they serve EVERYONE, not just the select few.

Reopen the special schools for extreme special needs students. We used to have places for children with extreme needs to go, funded seperately than public schools. They were cut to save money, but guess what. They didn't save money, the cost was just transferred to public schools.

Allow students the options to excell in more than just academics. School music, arts, vocational, and sporting programs give every child a chance to find where there talent is. Not every student is going to make A's but if they are learning, who cares what grade they make?

The most imporant ingrediates are parent involvement and student accountability. It doesn't matter whether you are home schooled, public or private. It takes an adult insuring the child learns that their education is their responsibility and it will NOT be handed to them on a silver platter.

I am a product of small town public schools (no private school anywhere in sight). I succeeded because of my parents and the fact that I did my homework, went to class, and took my education seriously.

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Bad_Brad 9 years, 2 months ago

I think it's a good goal. Sort of like a basketball player making 100% of his/her free throws is a good goal. It will never be fully attained, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. To shoot for less than 100% would be to sell some percentage of kids short.

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mrcairo 9 years, 2 months ago

Part of the NO CHILD LEFT ALIVE policy isn't it?

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Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Faith based schools are the primary targets for vouchers at this time.

Also if private schools, which are also bottom line businesses, became swamped with the same diversity of children that public schools are dealt would they remain the high achieving institutions that many are? Disruptive/problem children would get the boot. We need choices that private and public schools provide.

We homeschool our children. Two of whom went into the high school system and performed very well...3.7 and 3.9 GPA. They chose to focus on the classes necessary for their future goals. This included zero hour classes. Their first semester began with 1 and 2 classes respectively. The second semester both decided it would take 7 hours each semester and off they went. They were able to choose their own courses which included math,science etc. and obtain a GED. Both are now doing quite well in college.

As for the 100% NCLB demand...it's unrealistic for all the reasons Mr. Wedel pointed out. Once again chilren are not like a herd of cows. Will the teacher have enough time to spend with those who need it? Disruptive students? Are all parents actively involved at home? Which parents show up at parent teacher conferences? The current NCLB needs to be scrapped and start over as many elected officials will tell you. It has never even been close to adequately funded by the federal government...this is an expensive baby.

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Liberty 9 years, 2 months ago

To depend on a federal government program to insure that your kids can read is putting your kids at a big risk for their future and risking your future, as well as the future of this nation.

It goes back to: "If you want anything done right, do it yourself". Take time for personal involvement and investment in your children. They are the most valuable thing you have. Since you will depend on the decisions that they make later in life that will affect you, it is a prudent decision to home school in addition to or instead of public school. That way you can implant your values and beliefs that you know your children need to have instead of the values the government wants them to have.

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italianprincess 9 years, 2 months ago

My son is in the second grade now and has been having a bit of a rough time this year in school. The last two years were great and his class size had no more then 11 to 14 kids in it. His classroom size has grown larger this year since the district has shut down yet another school for saving money reasons. I'm not saying its a bad school, but its way over crowded and the teachers are under alot of stress.

He excells above average in spelling and math, but his attitude about school has changed because he tells me there are to many kids in the classroom now. There are kids in his class that are above average like he is and some who are below average. Kids learn at their own pace, but I feel size has something to do with it also.

For one teacher to be able to teach 26 children in a classroom the size of a sardine can is crazy and she is stressed out. I did a study on the size of the students and what the size of the classroom should be and you would be surprised. I'm sure my son's school isn't the only one whos classrooms are overcrowded either.

My son's classroom should only have about 14 students in it since it is around 620 square feet. Can you picture a room that size with 26 desks in it? How can a teacher teach and expect all her students to excell in learning when she simply can't give a few that bit of extra attention they need. I feel the size of the classroom has a deep impact on how children excell at school. The home is also another factor , but we won't go there.

Teachers are stressed out and need help in the classroom. They need help in the classroom so how can the district expect all students to be at a 100% compliance rate. Kids work at their own pace, if you push them they will fall back.

The state needs to get their head out of their you know what and start thinking about the children and how overcrowding of the schools may have something to do with the fact that some of these kids are not learning as well as others.

A smaller class size would make a difference in the school because I feel the children would get that bit of attention they need. Children learn through caring, patience, and a non stressed out teacher. Children also learn better when the teacher is able to take time with each child.

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Mister_Joe 9 years, 2 months ago

Well, you can always strive for something like that.....but I seriously doubt, in the long run, that 100% is truly attainable. The numbers right now seem to be lower than they should be. There's definitely room for improvment. But 100%??........Hmmmm.......That number doesn't sound too realistic to me!

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Jayhawk226 9 years, 2 months ago

Speaking from the perspective of a special education teacher, which may cause strife among my fellow teachers...

...but how can you expect students and learners to perform on assessments at a 100% accuracy rate, when we can't even find teachers that can and are willing to teach at a 100% accuracy and performance rate?

I see teachers that do not affect each and every student on a daily basis, partly because they openly discriminate against my students with special needs, the same students required to complete the "high-stakes testing" that require our school to meet our AYP.

But in their defense as well, teachers are human...so are our students. It is not human to perform at a 100% compliance rate--although such a great goal to work for.

I'll respond more later in the day, if needed. It's 6:09am...I'm still waking up.

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Charlie Bannister 9 years, 2 months ago

The general state of our educational systems nationwide is rather wanting at best, and in some areas deplorable. That is the exact reason why we need a voucher system that gives parents an option to send their children somewhere else if they are not getting what they need in public schools. It is very interesting to me that home schooled children generally do fantastically. The so called main stream media rarely reports that fact, but home schooled children and privately educated students just flat out do better, generally speaking. It is also very interesting to me that the same people who preach "choice" in other arenas, oppose it for parents who want to have the option of a voucher system. Now you can argue with me all you want on this, but the facts speak for themselves. I spent my four years of high school in a private institution, and my education was phenomenal. I was constantly encouraged to excel and was never allowed to just "get by." My parents were not wealthy, my Dad had a below average job income wise, and Mom did not work. Dad worked a second job for years to afford the tuition for both my sister and myself.

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Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 2 months ago

I doubt it. Most ADULTS can't read, or perform mathematically, at an appropriate level. Don't even get me started on the inability of people to spell words correctly!

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