Monday, December 04, 2006

What do Teachers Want?



I was listening to a radio broadcast and the question was asked what do Teachers want?
I was amazed that the responses were, classrooms without conflict, less government interference, (draconian programs like No Child Left Behind) and more supportive parents
In short, Teachers want to Teach

12 comments:

vicanclb said...

When you say "Teachers want to Teach", what about No Child Left Behind hinder their ability to do so? Wasn't the program created to help, not hinder teachers? It simply required teachers to be highly qualified in their profession and to have the greatest effect on children's learning.

Adrian Harper said...

The one-size-fits-all assessment requirements-annual testing in reading and math and periodic testing in science-and the accountability provisions attached to them are rigid, harmful, and ultimately unworkable. They will promote bad educational practices and deform curricula in significant ways. In the end, they will lower, not raise, standards for most students. For example, the assessment requirements will lead to further devaluing of non-tested subjects like social studies, music, and art. NCLB focuses on large-scale testing, which is a poor tool for diagnosing individual students' needs and for assessing higher-order learning.

vicanclb said...

What evidence do you have that these educational practices will deform curricula and ultimately lower the standards for students? On the NCLB government website, they indicate that they consider the core academic subjects to be not only math, science, and english, but also foreign languages, civics, government, economics, art, history, and geography. It is mandated by the states what they define as the "arts", not NCLB.

Adrian Harper said...

The gauge of student progress in most states will be reduced to reading and math test scores art and other areas are not even a consideration. Many schools will narrow instruction to what is tested. Education will be damaged, especially in low-income and minority schools, as students are coached to pass a test rather than learning a rich curriculum to prepare them for life in the 21st century.
Most schools will fail to meet the unrealistic demands imposed by the law’s “adequate yearly progress” provision. Virtually no schools serving low-income children will clear the arbitrary hurdles. Many successful schools will be declared “failing” and forced to drop what works for them.
Sanctions intended to force school improvement will do the opposite. They will pit parent against teacher, parent against parent, and school against school. They take funding away from all students to be used by relatively few students. The law’s ultimate sanctions–privatizing school management, firing staff, state takeovers, and similar measures–have no proven record of success.

vicanclb said...

What you're describing seems like quite a slippery slope effect. The tests are simply a method of tracking students, not the determining factor of the outcome of a school by the federal government. If schools are being mandated under the same law of NCLB, how is it that they will pit against one another? If anything, would that not serve as a incentive for schools to band together against NCLB if it was that destructive? Schools are required to inform the educational choices for the parent's child. They can provide free tutoring, alternate school choices, and other supplemental services, even for low-income families. If schools and NCLB are working together in order to facilitate a family's life, how is that ground for animosity? It seems like a hasty generalization to assume that there will be no success from a program that millions of dollars is being invested into.

Adrian Harper said...

With reasonable guidelines and adequate funding, this timetable might have been a prudent course of education reform. But as the first sanctions are just now begininng to kick in, people across the country are belatedly discovering that NCLB is being structured and implemented as a punitive assault on public education, designed to throw the system into turmoil and open the door to privatization.

Minnesota is a prime example of the carnage NCLB is likely to create. For decades, the state's education system has earned a sterling reputation by producing some of the nation's highest test scores and lowest drop-out rates. Yet in its evaluation of NCLB, the scrupulously thorough and nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor estimates that, even if Minnesota students showed a modest improvement in test scores and educational proficiency, 99 percent of the state's elementary schools would fail to make AYP 10 years from now, and 65 percent of the elementary schools receiving Title I funding would have to be "restructured." Under its most optimistic scenario for student improvement--which assumes, among other things, that the state's percentage of special education and immigrant students won't continue to grow, and that brand-new immigrants can boost their test scores just as rapidly as native-born Minnesotans--the auditor's office estimates an 82 percent failure rate on AYP for elementary schools in 2014, and the restructuring of 35 percent of the schools funded by Title I.

The closer one looks at the details of NCLB, the more ludicrous it appears. How do you create a chaotic situation in which nearly every school is destined to be labeled a failure?

vicanclb said...

Using Minnesota as evidence of the turmoil ensued by NCLB is insufficient. Minnesota saw positive affects such as a five percentage narrowing of acheivement between African Amerians and Whites, Hispanics and Whites, and Poor and Not Poor students in reading and math proficiency at the fifth-grade level. 8th graders reached an all time high in the state reading test this past spring at 85%. Overall, there have been narrowing gaps among whites and ethnic minorities most importantly. If the state prior to the program had a sterling educational record, how do you explain the improvements that have been made? The program has proven to be successful in areas that maybe were overlooked before by the state. Yes, they had reputable records in already well-to-do schools, but the advances seen in more disadvantaged areas hardly seem modest.
The state is given more power than people realize. The state is required to develop and implement an accountability system that is appropriate for their public school system. They set acheivements objectives as well, but those have flexibility. That is, if students "fail" to meet the requirements. These issues are immediately addressed by the state and resolved by providing free supplemental services like tutoring for any students struggling.
Testing the students is the most efficient and productive method for students at this time to keep the state informed on their progress. NCLB understands this and the importance of testing for all demographics as well. NCLB is simply providing a greater incentive for schools to improve their standards for higher learning and giving students the opportunity for the best possible outcome.

Adrian Harper said...

NCLB is the very problem that many educators have predicted: if you institute standardized tests and enforce them by making the schools' funding dependent on them, then the schools will teach to the tests. Even if this shift in focus improves reading skills, it must sacrifice other portions of the curriculum to accomodate them. But I suspect that there's so much analysis and anxiety about this going on, that the students are not only being taught in very closed-minded ways, they are also being overtested, which means that classes that teach are being turned into classes that test. And there are many problems with relying on monolithic testing procedures.
To quote the NEA
"The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), renamed the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act of 2001, established laudable goals -- high standards and accountability for the learning of all children, regardless of their background or ability.

However, the law must be fundamentally improved and federal lawmakers need to provide adequate funding if NCLB is to achieve its goal. Congress has to reauthorize the legislation in 2007, offering an opportunity to make it more workable and more responsive to the real needs of children."

But what do they know

vicanclb said...

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said
"for the first time ever, we are looking ourselves in the mirror and holding ourselves accountable for educating every child. That means all children, no matter their race or income level or zip code."
Spellings has served as the representative voice for NCLB and has reemphasized the importance of background. She has recognized the needs of children and has found an effective system that to permeates the standards that every state should hold their educational system up to.
You recognize the controversy of overtesting but there have been no other alternate solutions. NCLB has attempted to bridge the gap between different demographics and take accountability for their education, or lack there of.

Adrian Harper said...

The National Education Association supports the goals of the so-called "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act, including closing the achievement gap and ensuring that all students are held to high expectations of learning.

But the law was developed by politicians and bureaucrats, while the many recommendations by teachers, education support professionals, administrators, and others went ignored.

The education community wants ESEA/NCLB to allow for alternate ways to measure student performance, remedies for schools that are struggling, and the resources to carry out the objectives of the law.

NEA is not alone in its concerns about the law and its implementation. A growing chorus of voices is calling for changes in the law and additional federal resources for proven methods.
Other Voices

A growing number of organizations have called for legislative and regulatory changes to NCLB. A partial list includes:

*
American Association of School Administrators
*
American Federation of Teachers
*
Citizens for Effective Schools
*
Civil Society Institute
*
Communities for Quality Education
*
Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents
*
Council of Chief State School Officers
*
FairTest
*
Illinois Association of School Administrators
*
Maine School Superintendent Association/Maine School Board Association Executive Committee
*
Montana South Central Administrators
*
National Association of Elementary School Principals
*
National Conference of State Legislatures
* Tennessee School Boards Association
* West Virginia Association of School Administrators
Even more info can be found at
http://www.nea.org/esea/chorus1.html
The truth is NCLB is a good idea that has flaws, fix the flaws and move forward, but first admit that flaws exist. Trying to convince school districts that this model is the best thing since air, is equivalent to telling the general public we are winning the war in Iraq Finally I interact with teachers and administrators who are in the war zone saying that it doesn’t work and I based my blog on what teachers wanted. If NCLB was as effective as you claim why wouldn’t dedicated teachers want to adopt it?

vicanclb said...

There is a great amount of relevancy by associating all these programs to NCLB. Ignoring the recommendations of education officials and programs like the ones you have listed is a clearly an inexplicable bias on the federal government's part and they should listen.
I wanted to thank you for engaging in this conversation with me, I am a student at the University of Pittsburgh in an argument class. We were required to go onto a blog and discuss issues that were of interest to us and a pressing issue in the news today. I am actually in full agreement with you, after having worked with disabled kids for a number of years and volunteering at inner city schools in Rochester, New York, I understand the destructive nature of NCLB for students like these. After seeing the faults of NCLB, you can imagine my difficulty trying to argue the opposing side. Thanks for the discussion and glad to see you're advocating a change!

Adrian Harper said...

It was a pleasure, I so enjoy a good debate :)I wish you the best with your studies