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LJWorld.com weblogs In the Dark

Another victim of NCLB?

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Recently, Charles Goolsby, theatre director at LHS, invited the district 9th grade English classes the opportunity to see a special performance of the current LHS production-in-progress, Romeo and Juliet. What a fantastic opportunity for students to see one of the works of literature they study in class brought to life on stage!But something was nagging at me...If this production were not tied directly to the 9th grade English curriculum, would principals and teachers have responded so enthusiastically to the invitation? Or would it be construed as an obstacle to getting students through the required curriculum in order to perform strongly on standardized tests?I thought back over my years as a student, and then as a teacher. I had a sneaking suspicion that there just weren't as many field trips as there used to be. So I polled my students, who said that field trips had definitely dropped off in junior high from the frequency encountered in elementary school. This is partly due to the large amount of fantastic and enriching programs and opportunities in our community for the elementary students.But the teachers I spoke to said that they had noticed a definite decrease over the years. "Not enough time -- we are already trying to cram everything in before the kids have to take their tests -- we can barely get through the required district curriculum." This from two math teachers, and I had heard similar comments from English teachers as well.So my question is...in the struggle to adequately educate our children, and in the struggle to maintain the high standards and increasingly unreasonable goals set by NCLB, where do we make time to teach them about life? About culture? About music and theatre? About arts? About their environment and their community? We can't do those things in isolation in a classroom. They have to get out of the classroom to experience some of these things, but that takes away from precious classroom instruction time. For some of our students, a trip to LHS to see Romeo and Juliet may be the only chance they ever get to hear Shakespeare's work as it was intended. What else is passing them by while we keep them in the classroom, chained to the mandates of NCLB and standardized testing?

Comments

Larry Powers 6 years, 10 months ago

Some good thoughts. Some things that need be given much consideration. Larry Powers

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

I learned the basics and went on field trips. Solomon, why do you underestimate our kids? Don't you think they are capable of learning more than the basics? Why do you have such low standards for our children?

Ronda Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

I home schooled my children because of a lot of the reasons you have mentioned in your article. I think there should be more balance between time spent in the classroom and time spent out doing more hands on - with ears, eyes, hands,etc., activities. The best way to learn is still by doing.

Arts equal essential when it comes to balanced education.

mom_of_three 6 years, 10 months ago

We didn't do field trips in high school. Heck, we didn't do them in junior high either. I remember them primarily in grade school - going to Hutch, Abilene, to the high school to see a play.
I do remember the high school coming to OUR school to perform a play. And in the Lawrence, the junior high bands and choirs tour the grade schools. Just because the kids don't leave their school doesn't mean things are being seen.

Eileen Jones 6 years, 10 months ago

NCLB is a sham, designed to hamstring and shame the schools. The people who make money off it - who write and score the tests and software - are opportunists, and the only ones who ever benefited from NCLB.

NCLB has destroyed real teaching.

fu7il3 6 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, the greatest effects of NCLB won't be seen for years. We've spent so much time trying not to leave kids behind that we aren't getting attention to the kids that should be the future leaders and innovators of their generation. Not all kids are created equal, but we are doing out best to make them all mediocre.

mom_of_three 6 years, 10 months ago

Either way it works, someone gets left out behind. Before, it was the slower learners or kids with learning disabilities, and now, it's the smart kids, who don't have specialized classses.

mom_of_three 6 years, 10 months ago

fu7il3 - how do you know that one of the future leaders or innovators isn't a kid who is a slower learner, has ADHD or asperger's syndrome, or dyslexia?
We can't go off and forget those kids who need extra time, or special needs.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

mom of three, don't bet on it. Assemblies have been cut back too. Partly because of the time, but mostly because of the expense. All these tests have to be paid for. No one is providing them for free.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

"Before, it was the slower learners or kids with learning disabilities, and now, it's the smart kids, who don't have specialized classses." "how do you know that one of the future leaders or innovators isn't a kid who is a slower learner, has ADHD or asperger's syndrome, or dyslexia? We can't go off and forget those kids who need extra time, or special needs."

All the more reason to quit spending so much money on tests, and spend it on programs to help all students.

mom_of_three 6 years, 10 months ago

Students have always had tests. There may be more now, with more consequences.

But who is to say the schools won't lose sight of helping the slower student if the program is gone. Before NCLB, there was fear about cutting programs to help slower students.

Bill Chapman 6 years, 10 months ago

Testing should ONLY be done for the subjects of: math, science, civics, reading(writing), and history. Other subjects like the arts should be given a pass/ fail score based on the instructors opinion. Because of NCLB, we now have to grade our children on how they do for every subject equally. Some subjects (the arts - music, theater, etc.) are >subjective< classes with no set values. One persons' art is another persons' garbage, sound pollution, etc. I'm not giving less value to these classes, I'm just saying that the defining point of an "A+" in these classes is a subjective thing based on how the teacher perceives the students' work. In the math and sciences, a flaw in the process of completing a problem can invalidate the answer, making the answer useless - this is NOT a subjective thing! As for reading/ writing - if you do not learn the rules behind the use of a language, you might as well not use the language. Not using the proper writing technique will cause the writer to look like a fool and not knowing the proper technique prevents one from judging others' work. Civics classes teach students the general laws and basic structure of a country / society. Without this, the student has no knowledge of his / her own rights in that society. History supports the civics classes - it helps the student to understand the reasoning and the causes behind the laws taught in the civics classes. Without history there is only "just because" to give support for those laws / rules - and that doesn't even work in a young child's argument.

Forcing the school system to "leave no child behind" because they haven't learned these values is wrong. Linking the use of federal funds to the grades of students is a downward spiral for the learning of the students in that system and eventually will cause the system to implode under the stupidity of expecting >everyone< to do equally well.

Bill Chapman 6 years, 10 months ago

Oops - the posting system just ate 80% of my comment!

fu7il3 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm not saying that a kid who is a slow learner, has ADHD, or any other learning disability can't be somebody. But let's be honest. I can't run, jump, or shoot like Darrell Arthur. I'm not going to make millions as a professional athlete.

If Arthur and I were in elementary school together, playing basketball, he would always be better than me. I'd have to work twice as hard just to keep up. If the coaches spend all their time trying to get me to have a consistant turn around jumper in the paint, and don't play Aurthur, he's not going pro, and neither am I.

There are smart kids out there who aren't getting their fair shot because their teachers are so afraid of losing funding if they don't get the rest up to average that they have no choice but to:

A) Teach to the test, and

B) Spend more time with the students who are below standards.

That accomplishes nothing. It's like the old saying. Give a man a fish and he'll have lunch. Teach the same man to fish and he'll eat everyday. Maybe that's not the exact wording, but you get the point. Teach these kids to pass a test, and they will pass the test then forget everything. Teach them to love learning and they will learn the rest of their lives.

Not everyone can be a rocket scientist. But someone has to be. It is just as tragic to forget the kids that don't need as much help as it is to forget the ones that do. Is holding someone back really any better than leaving someone behind?

Brenda Brown 6 years, 10 months ago

Here is a theory I have been working on. Does it seem more childern are diagnosed as having ADHD, autisum and other related "condishions"? AND these childern excluded from the No Child Left Behind program numbers? I really don't know. Anyone?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

No, all students must be tested, and little or no accommodations are made anymore. I'm surprised they haven't insisted that blind students take a non braille test. Regardless of the severity of a child's developmental disability, they are expected to score at the same levels as all other children. Many schools are now being put on report, because this population of students hasn't (and probably never will) catch up to the rest of the population. Some of the kids can do it, especially Asbergers, but some are severely disabled, and will never be able to. But that doesn't matter. All schools will be labeled bad, because 100% do not score 80% or above. No exceptions. So the child who should be learning basic life skills, like reading a recipe for cooking, shopping, and doing basic jobs, so they don't have to live in an institution all their lives will be taught over and over about literary devices (idioms, simile, metaphor, etc) and upper level math problems which they will not use. They will have a hard time understanding them, because they are literal thinkers, and all these things require abstract thinking. Then funds will be cut to their school, which means they will have even less help than before.

Gary Denning 6 years, 10 months ago

About 1% of kids are excluded from testing due to extremely severe disabilities.

My biggest problem is that schools are judged by how kids do on tests, but there is no pre-test to see how well the kids are doing when they start school. A 5th grade kid can move into your district with a 1st grade reading level, and at the end of the year be reading at the 4th grade level. The school "failed" with that kid.

My second biggest problem was mentioned above: It only determines what the more challenged kids can do. The standard is whether or not each kid is proficient at a subject. Nobody has to do exceptionally well for the school to be successful under NCLB. While we worry about children being left behind, will any of them really get ahead?

busymom 6 years, 10 months ago

I've always had a problem with NCLB. The name is very misleading. Read the fine print. I myself am seeing a downslide in my childs math when just last year I was told my child was probably gifted in math.

As for the ADD, ADHD being overly diagnosed, that would be in the affirmative. There ARE kids that definitely have those disorders though. Problem is everyone equates a little energy and lack of focussing 100% of the time to a child having it, when the kid is just being a kid.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

Schools don't diagnose ADHD. Only doctors and psychiatrists can do this. Many parents want the diagnosis, because they can't handle the kids. But ADHD kids are still tested, regardless if their diagnosis is correct or not.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 10 months ago

No child left behind equals my child left bored out of his/her mind. Lets spend some money on gifted children as well. The amount of money spent on one child with autism a few years ago would have sent my daughter's six grade class to Europe. Pretty sad. I believe in inclusion, but we need realistic expectations for all of our children to succeed to their ultimate capabilities.

ksdivakat 6 years, 10 months ago

NCLB is a joke, first, my child goes to swjh and before that sunflower, no teacher, principal, counselor or wrap worker could tell me exactly what NCLB meant. That was my first red flag, secondly, my child did poorly on the tests, but when i called to inquire waht the plan was, i found out there was no plan! She has struggled all her life with school, 50% of it being lazy and not wanting to do it, we begged sunflower to hold her back in 3 different grades, but they said that it wasnt the policy and that the district wouldnt let them hold a child back because its bad for them socially.....should I repeat that?? ITs bad for them socially...so what has happened, now shes in 9th grade, terrible grades bad test scores, but nobody wants to do anything about it...............I have bad bad feelings about NCLB because mine was and is definately left behind and there is nothing i can do about it!

busymom 6 years, 10 months ago

Dorothyhr-It is true that schools do not diagnose add or adhd. However, teachers (not all) recommend to parents to have their child tested or outright saying they think the child has the disorder when in fact they do not. With everything else, there are bad teachers as well as good ones. And in one of my psychiatry classes, while adhd was being covered, it was asked how to tell when it's adhd and a kid being a kid. Response, that sometimes it is a kid being a kid. Not in those words but that's what the response boiled down to.

Bill Chapman 6 years, 10 months ago

I have never been diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure that I have a limited version of dyslexia. I have a tendency to switch number/letter variable places around when doing math. I look for it when doing important things, and have been doing so since the 5th grade. This means I basically double check EVERY mathematic problem I do - this takes me longer to do the problem, but at least I get more right. Double checking also allows me to catch the normal mistakes I made before anyone else sees them. I learned this on my own, long before the diagnosing of learning disabilities became mainstream.

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