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NCLB's Impact


Despite ongoing complaints, the federal No Child Left Behind Act has become implanted in the culture of America's public education system, according an Education Week special report on the states' implementation efforts.

What's your view? As it enters its fourth year, what impact is the No Child Left Behind law having on schools and students?


NCLB has left many children of different cultural backgrounds behind. In fact, there are many cases where it is easy to see that NCLB leaves authentic meaningful education behind. With state mandates and standardized tests dictating "success" or "failure," many schools fall short of what I deem as LEARNING. Critical thought, place based knowledge, meaningful experiences are substituted with stressful "training." We need to reverse this money making machine pendulum to one that encourages learning. Let's, as a nation of educators, stop leaving behind all those who can't test well or don't find the standardized curricula engaging.
NCLB does not stop children from falling through the cracks. More time and effort will be needed to truly deal with the causes of these cracks, and they can't be fixed by test scores.

I do beleive our schools need to do more for the high-risk students in our schools, but I also beleive it is wrong to put the whole burden on schools and hold them accountable to the extreme that NCLB holds them.

I beleive our educational system is headed in the wrong direction with NCLB.

Yes, we must set our goals for students high if we expect them to achieve, but we also have to remember that not everyone has the ability to master all academic areas. Not everyone is college material.

I think the requirements we are setting for ALL students is unrealistic. Even special education students are now expected to master higher level course such as Algebra, Geometry, etc.

There are college bound students, and then there are non-college bound students.

I think more time should be dedicated to finding which route is best and realistic for each of our students, and then we should route them in that direction. I think the mandated testing should be different based on which route students are taking.

The majority of non-college bound students will never use the knowledge they gain from these higher level courses. They often cannot master these courses, therefore, would never be able to gain employment where the information is required, not to mention the fact that they would more than likely not seek this type of employment.

Our schools are then held accountable if ALL students cannot master what the NCLB says they must.

The government says the money is there to back NCLB, but I know our school district has not seen any of it, although they are being held to the high standards of NCLB.

I know our school is trying to overhaul their whole system. Is this really what they need to be doing? What are the guarantees that the scores of the students in the school will change? Will they change things that maybe should not be changed, only to find out later that scores still yet have not improved?

As the saying goes, "If its not broke, don't fix it."

There are many factors that effect student performance. Personality of the students, homelife situations, poverty, etc. These issues need to be dealt with in order to help make more students academically successful. These students have more important issues to deal with than their education.

Often education is not considered of importance to parents of these students. There are students who are taught at home that education is not important.

Yes, we need to push each and every student to do their best. We need to help them set goals to achieve. But we also need to be realistic with each student. The teachers of the students are the professinals. They are with these students everyday. They can quickly point out the students they know can and cannot be successful in the subjects they teach.

There are many students who come from a poor family situation, who become very successfu because they have the desire to do so. If the desire is not there, it won't happen.

What in this world is 100%?

Our government who expects our educational system to be perfect is far from perfect. Our government is very poor at running our country as a business. We run this county in the red withe the large deficits we now have. There are many people without jobs and health care. Lets fix these problems.

I think the states shoud refuse NCLB. People need to stand up and take a stand on this issue.

We need to back up and take a look at what the real issues are and what we, in reality as teachers, can do to help each student become successful adults, based on the abilities of each student. NCLB measures ALL students by a higher level academic student.

Yes, there are schools that need to make changes in order to improve the performance of their students. There are also schools that do not have the resources that other schools in more wealthy communities have.

NCLB should give those failing schools the resources they need toi improve. NCLB punishes the schools which need the help the most. The school which are meeting NCLB recieves more money while the schools who are failing are withheld the funds they need to improve. This seems to be the complete opposite of how this should be handled.

I am curious to see what will happen when the government does send a company in to take over a failed school,and then with the leadership of that private company, the school still fails. What then?

I beleive the eduacation system has come a long way over the last few generations. There was a time when few people completed grades higher than 8th grade. More students are graduating than were before. More lower income students, and more women are attending college.

Our goals should be for each teacher to work towards giving each stduent the tools they need to be successful. Our goal should be to increase parent involvement in their child's education.

I think the people who are setting the rules and the guidelines are people who know little about the eduacation of students. These are people who know little about the lives of students who live in poverty and/or bad homelife situations.

The teachers are the professinals in education. We need to let them do their jobs and give schools the resources they need to help their students become successful.

The bottom line is money, not test scores.

NCLB has created an educationtional environment that is full of tension and anxiety. The lack of national uniformity in school demographics and state testing practices creates invalid comparisons. The special education AYP mandates are making requirements that are contrary to IDEA. As with most theories, the philosophy is correct but the implementation has a long way to go before it is equitable and appropriate.

NCLB has created a great deal of confusion and frustration for Special Education teachers, administrators, and students. It overlooks the fundamental premise of Special Education; that these children have disabilities that significantly impact their learning as compared to non-disabled peers. IDEA recognizes this, but NCLB does not smoothly dovetail into this legislation. IDEA permits testing out of grade level (supporting the premise that students with disabilities can succeed, but not at the same rate and in some cases at the same level as non-disabled peers), but NCLB requires all children to be measured using the same criterion. In the early implementation, I am already seeing students who are identified with Specific Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disabilities, and Other Health Impairments feeling discouraged, disenfranchised, and giving up because they feel they cannot compete with or meet the standards of their non-disabled peers. NCLB has magnified the differences and ignores the individual needs of students with educational disabilities.

IDEA clearly identifies criterion for eligibility for Special Education and related services, the major being that students are functioning significantly below their non-disabled peers in academics. Yet under NCLB, these same students who are identified are assessed with no regard to their disability, their individual needs, or their current level of functioning. Now, one could argue that NCLB builds in safe guards and remediation for students not meeting the standard, but students with educational disabilities may not benefit from these services, these students need "specialized instruction" to benefit from educational curricula.

I believe in high standards and giving and expecting the most from all students, but NCLB has set a bar that many identified students receiving Special Education and related services may not be able to achieve. NCLB ignores the fundamental premise of IDEA. School districts and students will be accountable for attaining outcomes that in some cases may be unrealistic. IDEA has been amended and sits on the President's desk, unfortunately the selective amnesia of congressional leaders has once again not dealt with the discrepancies within these two pieces of legislation. It is easy to look at test scores and lay blame on "failing school districts" that are not "achieving the standard." It is much harder to analyze the cause of this failure and have congress give clear guidance without contradiction in legislation.

NCLB has many positive and negative points. The largest problem that I see is with our special needs populations. It is extremely unfair to expect those students to pass tests for graduation when they can't understand the material due to their special abilities or lack of. It also is unfair to the growing population of students whose primary language is other than English. It takes 5+ years to gain academic English which is what they need to pass the tests.

NCLB has a myriad of shortcomings, but the major underlying problem, as I see it is using a one-shot standardized test score to determine whether students are learning and teachers are teaching. Using this method is contrary to all researched and respected evaluation methods. Evaluations should be done frequently and over a long period of time to get an accurate picture of a student's progress. The person who can do this successfully and systematically is the classroom teacher. Since NCLB was implemented, the use of test scores has taken precidence over what teachers know and say about their students. This sends a powerful and negative message to everyone that teachers are not capable or knowledgable about how their students are progressing through the curriculum. There is a great shortage of special education teachers. The fact that the ones who remain or are attracted to the field are going to be judged on the basis of whether or not their students are performing up to grade level is not an incentive to remain in the field. The basis for placement in a special education setting is that the disability impacts the student's ability to perform academically - this is a foundational concept in the federal law IDEA. A student can't be placed in special education unless they are having problems with academics, but the teacher and school will be held accountable if they are not performing up to grade level on a one shot standardized test. Let's turn the schools back over to the ones who know best - the teachers and the principals........

Vis a vis special ed and NCLB

As a parent, I find much more support for my child with learning and emotional disabilities under NCLB than we ever got from IDEA.
Everything that we have ever gotten under IDEA was hard fought and evaporated as soon as we moved on to a new grade or school (which happens very often to special ed kids!). Nothing that we gained ever carried over to school-wide or systemic improvements--it was something that my kid got because he has a well educated parent with the tenacity to understand the law and bring in the legal assistance required to see that it is followed (and believe me we are talking improvement in following the law--not complete compliance, it is too exhausting for one person)

Under NCLB, especially because of the standardized testing requirements, I at least know which schools in my district are doing well with my kid's population and which are doing poorly--and believe me the range is wide! Because the scores of disabled kids have to be included, we suddenly have the notice of the superintendent, not just the special ed director.

While it is true that some kids with cognitive disabilities need to be tested alternatively, this is covered in the law. In the past, there has been a tendancy to blanket all the special ed population--which includes vision and hearing impairment, the full range of learning disabilities, orthopedic disabilities, etc, into exclusions. Several years ago when I tried to get intervention services when my child had done poorly on a state test, the response was--we'll just give him a waiver.

NCLB, is not perfect, but it has at least succeeded in identifying some of the elephants in our living rooms.

NCLB is a philosophy that most people like to believe, however, the reality is a whole different story. NCLB fails to address all the inequities in the tests and the diversity of the students taking the tests. Until special education students are fully acknowledged as NOT being capable of scoring at the highest level of proficiency, we will be creating a devastating nightmare for ourselves by saying that our schools (and our TEACHERS) are failing. The answer for many states has been to lower the bar so that the highest level of proficiency can be achieved by the educationally-challenged students. So, is that going to be our measure of success? It will have to be our measure of success so that our schools aren't destined for the "failed" label on the AYP reports.

Through the implementation the NCLB policies, the overall quality of student learning and teaching is being adversely affected by the very same policies intended to improve education. This is happening within the context of three emerging outcomes of NCLB implementation:

1. The school curriculum is being monopolized by
math and reading instruction while other
equally important areas of student learning
(i.e., social studies) are marginalized
or disregarded.

2. A "test-generated" curriculum has become the
focus and priority of instructional decisions
and professional development.

3. The ideal of a "highly qualified" teacher is
being primarily equated with subject area
course credits, or a score on a PRAXIS II

Each of these outcomes serves as a source for educational deficiencies that are potentially just as serious as the problems NCLB was intended to correct. Trading one set of problems for another is not a sign of effective educational reform, and the improvement of education should not be based on either-or-propositions. If the intent is to definitely effect a positive change in education for "all" students, then policy criteria need to be developed and implemented in ways that maintain a balanced educational curriculum.

Rather than simply complying with federal and state mandates, teacher education programs and school districts must advocate for an interrelated validity where the standards-based curricula do provide a clear and balanced guiding framework of important understandings and ways of knowing (not just basic skills in math and reading); the highly qualified teacher is one who can interpret and translate these standards into developmentally appropriate learning experiences; and assessments should provide valid and reliable measures of conceptual understandings, as well as basic learning. When these three criteria are met we will have developed the processes and structures of effective educational reform that are fluid and can evolve with societal changes and individual students' needs. In this way no child is left behind, and equally important the purpose, value, and meaning of education is focused on relevant and meaningful learning, not just political and economic factors.

NCLB is a fine example of a good idea that has been poorly operationalized. Each administration seems to forget to ask practitioners for meaningful input long before announcing the latest plan to "fix" the public school system. The usual result is confusion, expense and misguided efforts. However, one thing is always assured---the perpetuation of additional layers of bureaucracy!

The best that can be said about No Child Left Behind is that it has put a national spotlight on the issue of accountability in education. However, NCLB has not illuminated the best route to achieving it. Accountability is crucial to success in schools, as in any human service enterprise. Committing to a mission and goals, strategic planning and implementation, defining standards, setting benchmarks, targeting staff development to measurable outcomes (goals) and continuous measurement of processes and results for the purpose of refinement of strategies are all, by now, proven paths to accountability and performance improvement. They work. Note that NCLB doesn’t measure these or even require them. NCLB measures the results of children on exams, a very indirect measure of the work of the adults. Children aren’t uniform, and student standardized test scores are not a socially equitable measure of the effectiveness of schools. Using test scores to identify schools that need help (a process that costs billions of dollars but delivers zero instruction) is not telling us anything that hasn't always been plain. Socio-economic status is the best predictor of how well students do on tests, graduation rates, college admission rates, and future income. NCLB shames schools publicly, and flight of families with social and economic assets from these schools only hurts the students and staff left behind, so the problem is amplified, at least in the short term. Penalizing a school by either sending bureaucrats from the state to "analyze" and "recommend" also penalizes the taxpayers, slows the work processes, and shows no proven benefit to student learning. Taking federal resources away from poor schools is absurd, and effectively sanctions a two-tiered school system based on socio-economic status, rather than ending the problem.

The only thing that schools can control that has been shown to improve student outcomes on standardized tests is the quality of instruction delivered. Children need more than good instruction to learn, though, so it takes more than good schools to improve outcomes. Why do we need a huge bureaucracy to tell the government where to allocate money? We should allocate it by income of the parents, and we should use some of it to pay teachers better, based on the measured quality of their instruction. School boards and administrators in all districts and schools must have the means to provide conditions of employment in which excellent teachers can thrive. The carrot is much more effective than the stick at changing human behavior--ask any psychologist, or any teacher, for that matter. The public needs to provide enough teachers, enough books, pencils, paper, and science kits, and warm, safe facilities to learn in. If we don’t provide the basic tools, we are just hypocrites to demand a quality product from the schools.

Given that 16% of the nation's children (and almost 30% of non-white children) are live in poverty, providing direct resources to children to improve their socio-economic status (for example, increasing parent's minimum wage, increasing food stamps and direct nutrition programs, subsidizing healthier and safer housing, universal child health care and family mental health services, better child care opportunities and available pre-school so both parents can improve their employment skills and incomes, etc.) would be the other best way to spend billions of dollars to improve school outcomes.

Of course, doing those things wouldn't provide so many white-collar bureaucratic, administrative, or consultancy jobs, and probably wouldn’t sell as much testing software, and might feel more like a “handout” than bailing manufacturing stockholders out of bankruptcy....but it would change the lives of children, the nature of schools, and the quality of our culture. And even in a society trumpeting the virtues of “personal responsibility” and “ownership,” sometimes we just have to do what’s right.

NCLB actually stands for a Nation Creating a Legacy for Bush. Being from Texas, it was disappointing that no one from the national media asked Texas what we think about Bush’s educational legacy in Texas. Yes, we have “test scores” which have risen most years. But is that THE true measure of education? In many districts, if you are not successful on the state-mandated test, your electives are replaced with classes geared towards getting you prepared for the next state-mandated test. These classes don’t offer students remediation of lacking knowledge as much as just providing them with test-taking skills so they can pass the next test. Bush/NCLB, what would you tell the parents of the student who is a potential prodigy in music or acting or art or Athletics, but due to failure of the state-mandated test, will forever be an unknown because this person has to be in classes to prep for the next test rather than in a class developing a superior talent?

Yes, it is important that every student develop to the fullest potential, but how just is our expectation for every student to strive for the exact same goal regardless of individual capabilities? Next, will NCLB say that all students must run the mile in a certain predetermined time? The physically impaired will have to give up electives to take extra classes geared to making them faster, whether they are capable or not.

Finally, NCLB was created based on falsified results. The nation was told that “it worked in Texas,” but has that data been analyzed and scrutinized? For years, when test results were in and close to being released, the percentage of students passing was too low -- so the scores were skewed. On one occasion, if a student correctly answered 52% of the test questions, the test was scored as passing. And we thought the bell curve was a thing of the past. . .

Until we can confront the “teacher” who is not teaching and say, “Get it going, or get out,” we will not fix the system’s problems. We are losing the teachers who DO teach because we are penalizing them for the incompetancies of others.
We are losing our students because they are turned off by a system that will not allow them to have individualities.

NCLB has opened up a whole new world of sytemic education change. Since its inaction, NCLB has set the stage for conversations, strategic planning, and action centered on the belief that all student can learn. Educators, adminstrators, and boards of edcuation are focusing their efforts on ensuring that all students are given the appropraite opportunity to learn. Education is quickly becoming child centered (imagine that). Unfortunatley, some states have been neglecting their responsibilities to provide a high quality education for every child. Many of the negative effects of NCLB that I hear and read about are state issues. The negative decisons being made in reaction to NCLB are being made at the state and local level. Is it the fault of the federal government? Some will point out that NCLB is causing these leaders to make these decisions. My question is - Shouldn't we have always put the education of all students first?
IF we really want the federal government to be responsible for a national curriculum and the edcuation of our youth, we will give up our constitutional right of providing an appropraite level of education at the local level. We need to fight for every child at the local level and ensure that the appropriate educational decisions are being made for the students that we edcuate. School leaders who make decisions that negatively impact their local edcuation systems need to be accountable to their localities. Overall, I support NCLB and its mission to ensure that all students are learning. However, I do believe there is one major revision that needs to take place for lasting and meaning educational reform -AYP requirements need to be revised.
In correspondence with congress I have indicated and promoted the use of a growth model for AYP. This would place everyone on the same playing field as well as promote and celebrate student learning growth in every child. As educators we know that all students can learn but not at the same rate.

NCLB is early in its infancy, working to make it a true education reform act will require great patience and vigilance in a proactive manner.

Adding to the neat stacks of books, worksheets and rows of desks that characterize education topography, the Standards Movement Manuals tower above classroom life like corporate skyscrapers clearly defined against a bleak horizon, and poised for their daily inhabitance by teachers. Line after line, number upon number, the Standards Movement stands apart from yet defines a stark education reality, each standard of learning a symbol of the true grit and integrity of the lessons to come.

Listening to the stories of teachers who are unable to keep up with the volume of information and the speed of delivery required of them to teach to the Standards Movement, I am reminded of postal workers sorting junk mail into the symbolic slots that are our children’s brains. Speed, push, and pressure. Educators have become the consummate clock-watchers; kids have no time to day-dream. We are turning teachers and kids into academic crash-test dummies. How fast can we go and how much can they withstand? The Standards Movement soldiers on the front lines of education—women, children, and a few good men—are force-marched into the future. Reinforcements, we are told, are on the way. The drafted leftovers and the second-class students from colleges and universities? The sensitive and the idealistic? Heroes or chumps? How do we know who our teachers—present and future—really are? Like the soldiers of yesterday, their youth, courage, and vitality are prime qualities for saving America’s young and preserving freedom of mind and character in our schools. Like soldiers, how they behave and what they do depends entirely on the backbone, the courage, and the humanity of their leaders. And in that sense, our society has much to worry about. With their eyes set steadfastly on standards, our education leaders and politicians say this will make us proud and highly educated one fine day.
The machine we call education moves at a fast clip. Focusing on the numbers reminds one of the maxim: the watched pot never boils. Focusing on the numbers appears to give us greater control, but in actuality we condemn our children to days of colorless, gray textbook experience and one-dimensional instruction.

The Standards Movement has become America’s cultural dictator. The Standards Movement controls our national education identity and, if we’re not careful, it will fast reform our national character. We resist and decry big government, but we submit hands-tied and heads bowed to state mandated learning. Big Brother has arrived. Parents are powerless. Teachers perform their jobs mute with fear and frustration. Their professional freedom has been reduced to a kind of intellectual slavery. The Standards Movement quantifiable approach to learning may appear to be strictly by the numbers, but its real meaning and impact may only be glimpsed by reading between the lines of education. The Standards Movement trumpets the importance of numeric results, but in the push of the crowd we have lost certain inalienable rights that should be inviolable to teachers and children: freedom of mind and freedom of voice. To be a teacher once meant enjoying and expressing a distinct identity, a voice, an ever-ripening ability to connect with children. With increased mandated focus on the numbers, all involved—supervisors, teachers, children—dangle in a concerted effort to ‘teach’ information—at the same time, in the same form, toward the same end—in an increasingly dehumanized learning environment.

This then may be the real legacy of the Standards Movement testing and accountability programs all across the country: they are a law that sees learning as facts and skills that lay as inert as the paper and print they are written on. In their effort to get tough and accountable, law-makers attack, abuse and malign education for its imperfections and complexities.

The state mandates reflect a sad, negative view of teachers and of the education field. Bad, mean spirited teachers and bungling administrators inhabit the terrain—people with no aptitude or talent for real education—reinforce the public view of education.
Pre-Standards Movement education culture certainly had its blemishes, but the Standards Movement is codifying the worst aspects of an imperfect system by creating an academic gulag—a rigid, autocratic, undemocratic, closed system. In our age of media, information, and technology, why create such a repressive system? When today’s children come to school primed with visual acuity and curiosity about the world around them, why pass ‘reforms’ that are based on a desk-bound, worksheet, test-taking interpretation of their world? Why not focus on the strengths that children embody, and why not respect and promote in our education policy the very thing that makes children tick: the capacity for hands-on creative thinking. Instead we deny children that birthright and lock them in a rigid world handed down by state politicians with their detached, sometimes ignorant and desensitized view of the classroom. Does the Standards Movement introduce an intelligent learning system that incorporates current research in brain science and child development? Hardly.

Why not design a system of reform that enhances and enriches the performance of schools and teachers? Why not build on the best qualities of an imperfect system? Why not create an Education Constitution with a Bill of Rights for Parents, Teachers, and Children? Why not examine learning models that promote change by using tools and ideas other than the proverbial whip? Why not consider a less-is-more philosophy, and find curricula that promote real interest and love for learning. Why not use the Internet in ways that help good schools share their skills, programs, curriculum, and know-how with struggling schools?

Why not hand pick teachers who love children and support them with tools and an environment that allow them to flourish? Instead of using accountability as a threat against teachers and children, how about holding school systems accountable for providing teachers with support and attainable models for professional growth and development? Education is a complex thing—possibly the most complex of human endeavors. Why do we attempt to solve the problems of society’s most complex challenge—a challenge involving the most vulnerable yet most creative members of our society—with reforms that are inherently repressive, pressured, mean spirited, unfair, and unimaginative? Granted change is needed, but the Standards Movement is truly an archaic model that demands accountability in ways that are oversimplified, alienating, demeaning, controlling, and unresponsive to the people directly impacted on the front lines of classroom experience.

We must begin to ask questions that move us beyond neatly packaged views of education. What do we want our learning culture to look like? Do we want classrooms to become joyless mills and holding tanks? Or do we want our classrooms to be places that hold promise and bring joy to every child regardless of aptitude or economic background? Do we want our schools to be places held in affection by all children? Places in which teachers are free to speak their minds and exercise their voices? Do we want schools to be places where fear and intimidation drive learning? Or places where children can develop based on their individual strengths and interests?

The focus on the Standards Movement should prompt other questions: What does the Standards Movement really mean for teachers and children? Does the Movement invade classroom intimacy and promote fear? Does it promote teacher attachment to curriculum at the expense of teacher focus on children; does it emphasize teacher accountability over a teacher’s compatibility with children? Does it breed poor, sometimes abusive teaching? Do poor, imaginative teachers gladly adhere to the strict letter of the Standards since all their peers, great teachers and mediocre, do not stand out but perform the very same job the very same way? Does the Movement damage the teaching profession by driving truly creative, caring, innovative people out of teaching? Do we want teachers so scrutinized that their every move is monitored and evaluated? Or are there more intelligent and respectful ways to encourage and evaluate teacher performance? Teaching, in case it may not have occurred to the powers that be, is supposed to be enjoyed—for to the extent that it is enjoyed is the degree to which children are motivated to think, learn, and dream.

Teachers are faced with a tidal wave of complex problems—problems that deface the learning culture and distract them from the real process of teaching. If they have less time and energy to deal with the real challenges posed to them by the differences in the children they face on a daily basis, if they have less time to explore, create solutions, or to deal with the concerns and frailties of parents who want a positive learning environment for their imperfect children, then education will have abandoned its primary learning mission and transformed itself into a mass learning factory—mass competition, mass movement—all based on results, numbers, and product with increasing exclusion of ‘inferior schools containing inferior people’. The end result is the erosion of a national identity. The public schools, long the imperfect, unpretentious arena of social and cultural rite of passage, a social space that breathed a life and identity of its own, will have been taken hostage by a hostile overlord: the state. The mean-spirited nature of school culture, complete with competition and exclusivity, produces the same in students. Teaching processes that ignore the human element will produce students who articulate little and engage in herd thinking and behavior. There is increasing bias against those who learn or behave in different ways; the pressure to conform has never been greater. The Standards Movement testing culture merely reinforces these negative lockstep tendencies. Teachers care more about maintaining pacing tracks and mandated schedules than they do about the parents and children they serve. We pay lip service to diversity but increasingly school life is laced with intolerance, indifference to differences and a focus on the all-telling numbers. It is a hostile, joyless time for education.

What does all this mean? We are witnessing a systemic, insidious assault on our nation’s greatest resources: our children and the adults who we entrust to be with them. This represents a self-inflicted brain drain cloaked in high-minded tough-love academic assertions, assumptions, and policy advanced by political leaders of all persuasions. The Standards Movement is rooted in a kind of paternal McCarthyism that hits on the intellectual freedom and civil rights of children and a vulnerable and often politically abused education field. It is time to stop the bullies in their tracks. We must begin to support our teachers with the training they need in order to excel creatively, emotionally, and intellectually to challenge and engage the children they work with. In so doing, we will begin to transform our learning culture from the joyless trek though information it has become into the humane and enlightened journey we all want it to be.

The late quality expert W. Edwards Deming had it right when he said that arbitrary, time-defined standards are meaningless without answering the qustion of "by what methods " (and at what cost) we achieve them.

Personalized Learning (One teacher to One student) and full curriculum Independent Study programs are only found in 7 states and have long been performance-based, namely accountable for funding in extreme paperwork documentation that makes Nickleby look desirable as a kindergarten learning requirement in high school. From California, I can say the only honest state superintendent of public instruction in the nation is Dr. Terry Bergeson who lowered the dishonest graduation rate of 79% to the reality of 66% after the statisticians of the Manhattan Institute had pointed out real criteria for determining how many go in and how many go out by age 18 in all 50 states. California's Dept of Education uses 84.3% as a fantasyland of a grad rate or offers 4-year "derived" rates in that range when the reality is 67% meaning 33% are not graduating on time. Add in just the last four years of dropouts who cannot afford seat-time in day or night classes around ever changing work and new family schedules, then you really have only half the students graduating high school. When Bergeson recommended in a research study that personalized learning, small schools, new schools, charter schools, and funded performance based (earn credits towards graduation) models of funding be used, the Washington Education Association ran a candidate against her. When the voters there rejected a watered down and cap of 5 charter schools and the WEA candidate, the rest of nation was delighted who are tired of good kids failing in the back of classrooms. NCLB has for the first time shown light on the halfsies failure of classroom education. Personalized Education can be used as in my school with appointment schedules with personally accessible teachers that can flexibly change with work or medical schedules. Why? To keep a student moving WORKING towards a diploma while the 22 reasons that student like independent study occur. The rest of education has told these students: My way or the highway. Many took that road or had no other choice. With school choice where they and the realities of their life and learning disabilities or style is accommodated, we handle 1,200 students in a district of 19,000 and have a waiting list from continuation and other alternaitve education schools and defectors from conventional classrooms. 68% of our students come to Desert Sands Charter High School upon admission with only elementary and middle school skill levels. We emphasize with personalized learning in our Math Annex and Power Reading various small tutoring groups to augment the one-to-one teaching relationships on a weekly basis to get them through the rough spots in learning any concept. Our testing on a performance basis allows students to fail at 60% only for one week or they do all of one credit's worth of work over again with additional instruction until they pass the test and then move onward. We don't let them fail for months or years, only a week and then we fix the lack of understanding. Diagnostic tools such as Scantron's Performance Series are turned into teaching tools since every question they miss is tied to an assignment to fill that gap in their knowledge from 4th grade, 7th grade, 9th grade, and strengthens them up. None of the pressure to identify the gaps nor know what they are as standards based would exist without the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. In both theory and practice it is making the adherents to the status quo extremely uncomfortable. Independent Study teachers have to document and initial when an assignment is given, how long the student has to complete it, their test score, when that test score occurred, and tally up the credits they earned against a Master Learning Period Agreement that acted as a plan for six months. I know of no clasroom teacher that would stand still for the amount of that accountability and record-keeping. When they are pised off now that they have to give an annual test to teach to, how would they like state auditors coming to examine their files and either pass the school or reduce its funding based on whether all of their initials are in the right place with dates. Wow, talk about a howl that would make. However, since we do this every day and measure performance we have learned a few things that numerous doctorates in education could be earned by. One is that 80% of these "at risk of failure" students get the knowledge needed to graduate and pass exit exams. The second is that for all the griping about teaching to tests, teachers arrive at innovative ways tailored to each student to get the point across they missed, because they know they missed it one way, and an alternative method is required until they grasp the knowledge. Good ideas from other teachers are paid attention too. Such methods range from Screenplay writing to draw out visual creative loners into writing five paragraphs coherently for the first time in their lives-- to real client projects where a business person will be honest enough to say "Back to the drawing screens, kids, because there has to be a better way to make this idea happen".When policy makers realize their status quo is busted, they can begin to accept that one-to-one education can be funded intelligently. California has its method that has survived despite weak organization for Alternative Education, its just that there are such great numbers of students and potential students to recover, that Independent Study that prepares students to think like a collegian is accepted. The aplus.org or Association of Personalized Learning Services is in the vangurad of informing legislators how to fix half of education. My Desert Sands Charter High School belongs to that. In places like Washington where there is a Washington Association for Learning Alternatives (WALA) with lobbyists and teeth into getting Alternative Educational Experiences (ALE) legislation for funding passed based on the amount of work a student performs, is a good model. In Michigan, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies had the legislature adopt the idea that every high school student in MI should take 6 credits in Independent Study with Distance Learning as a graduation requirement and is run by the MI university system. Yes, these ideas started in charter schools as new experiments in public education that should be paid attention to in yes, solving the problems of all education. NCLB makes highly paid administrators realize that the word principal used to come from "principal among teachers" and causes them to see that all the public relations abilities they have cannot hide from the truth: 1 of 2 is not making it through their administration of failure. Its time to change and sweep away the Political Unions (PU) that so-called teachers' unions have become and encourage more accountability on a student by student basis. [email protected]

As a Special Education teacher, I teach everything. I have a mild/moderate specialist credential. But, my credential is multiple subjects. So, if I choose to teach in middle and high schools, which I have been doing, I am not considered to be a "highly qualified" teacher. If, I had a single subject, I would be considered as "highly qualified".

One of the classes I teach is study skills. I need to be familiar with every subject taught (basic math,algebra, geometry, basic science, biology, chemistry, English, history, Spanish), so I can help kids with homework, get them trough projects, and help study for tests. I also teach Language Arts(grades 7-12).

NCLB wants me to get a single subject credential in everything I teach to be a "highly qualified" teacher. My job also requires me to be an expert in special ed law, write IEPS and transition plans, manage 28 cases, work with outside agencies, work with all the teachers for my 28 cases and all the students in my classes, and hold 28 2 hour IEP meetings... I am not complaining. I love my job and my kids! I am passionate about what I do. But, please don't lay any more requirements on me.

Did you know that special ed teachers only last for about 5 years? The burnout rate is so great that there are more job opening than teachers.

So, NCLB is going to require me to go back to school for the next upteen years and add more stress to an already highly stressful job. If, this is the case, than I will either go to a private school, work as a reading specialist at community colleges, or go into private practice as a learning specialist. But, I consider myself as highly qualified even if NCLB doesn't!

I work in a self contained program within a public high school. NCLB resulted in every student's schedule having to be changed to meet the "highly qualified" mandate, with no thought to the behavioral or emotional needs of the students. It was as if we had to start the year all over again and we lost months of instruction time as the students adjusted to new schedules, new teachers, etc. We had to include general education teachers in the program to make it "fit" and many of them did not have a behavioral background- that's why they chose general education! The testing mandates will never fit the needs of our students so what are we doing here? NCLB asks us to ignore the true needs of our students to fit into the political view of what education should be. I would venture to say that most of us became teachers to be able to help children. Here I am working myself into the ground to meet the needs of the students while NCLB insists it's not appropriate.

As an elementary/special ed. student, I have great concerns about the NCLB act and how it will place undo burdens on my students. The expectations that the law makes are leaving kids behind and serve a disservice to the professionals that are in the classroom.
Number one, the NCLB act does not provide the funding to allow the schools to help the students that need it the most.
Number two, there is so much pressure on teachers to "teach to the test" so students will be labled "proficient" that other curriculum is being left by the wayside. Plus, as a parent of an eight and eleven year-old, I am greatly concerned. At a recent parent-teacher conference, my husband and I were schooled on what requirements were being placed on my third grade child and I did not like it. The teacher was upset and did not agree with what was to take place after the holidays (curriculum changes), but said it would be needed because of the state tests.
Also, what about the disabled children that are slowly being left behind. A recent article in the Los Angles Times depicted a school district that could only tutor the children that were close to being "proficient" in hopes they would increase their test scores so the school would receive more funding. But what about the others, though? The ones that really need the help and have no clue what is going on? No Child Left Behind, huh?
As a soon-to-be educator, I would be remiss in saying that I am not concerned with the federal government's lack of trust in experts and common sense logic that is placing a burden on our teachers and children. As I and my classmates discuss the law, there is no shortage of anger, stress, and concern about what the future holds for all of us and the students we will oneday teach. Children are being left behind, funding is not being filtered into the school districts that really need it, and teachers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation. Our children deserve a law that helps, not makes things harder. Their lives are complicated enough without having to live up to our government's outlandish expectations.

NCLB is the center of everything wrong in education. It's rascist, it's unconstitutional, it's child abuse all packaged under a "feel good" title. Every school is under intense pressure to perform, NOT to educate. We are no longer in the business of providing quality education for our students. We simply want to manipulate data until the whole thing (NCLB) goes away. Because of the pressures place on school sites, I recently had representatives from my district and my principal tell me straight out "you MUST teach to the test." My principal has also told me that PE in no more and art is to be eleminated. No child may be left behind because there are no children left - just little mechanic test-takers.

It is disturbing to read so many educators quoting so much mythology and being so willing to fly a white flag of surrender without drawing on the skills and knowledge that they claim to embrace.

NCLB does not reward proficient schools with more funding, nor withdraw it from ones who perform poorly (although this could be one option exercised by the state after a number of years in School Improvement status). "Teaching to the test," does not improve test scores, good quality teaching does. I would challenge anyone to provide data to support the viewpoint that the majority of special education students achieve more through education in self-contained pull-out settings with "generalist" teachers. That data does not exist--in fact little data exists on the achievement of special ed students as a group because they have generally been exempted from testing (or their scores omitted from reporting).

The models that show promise, in terms of raising achievement for most special ed students, are inclusive models that use a team teaching approach, bringing together the content knowledge and pedagogy of a general ed teacher with the behavioral and accommodations knowledge of the special ed teacher. The students who also benefit from this approach are those who are far from the proficiency line and need more than extra drill and test-taking strategies to lift them up.

We have to move away from the viewpoint that the regular ed teachers ought not to have to teach "those kids," because if they wanted to they would have majored in Sp Ed in college. I have been told this with regard to my son. Can you imagine anyone telling me that directly if the variable they were avoiding were gender or race?

I believe that the NCLB mandates were not and are not necessary. From Michigan to California states have been putting in place a whole host of standardized testing geared at improving educational achievement among students. Also, Teaching Credentialing Commissions have been developing stringent teachers' certification requirements. I believe that behind the NCLB there is a whole plan to subvert public education and creates the conditions for expanding charter schools and the voucher, even if it takes circumventing Congress. This bloated unfunded mandate is creating problems for states because in order not to loose precious Federal dollars, local programs are been cut in order to fund the so-called NCLB reforms. Given the facts that the NCLB mandate is creating more problems that what it is solving, Congress should not renew it in 2007.

The NCLB mandate is creating more problems that what it solving. Most states througout the country have been developing and implementing strong standarized assessments and credenttialing commissions have also tighten up teachers' certification requirements.

I think NCLB is wrong, and the wrong way to go.

I think that there does need to be more accountability in education.

But I also think there are some things inherently wrong with our society and our politics. And until we get more progressive and realize that the world is a movin', this country is going to get left behind. And I don't think God is gonna be passing No Country Left Behind.

Bush and the pro-NCLBers, you are part of the old guard. You want to drill and kill for oil, when we need to be spending money money money on sustainable transportation.

With such a greedy and misguided government, how can we expect our children to develop into anything better?

But hey, some fools voted this guy in, and we are all gonna pay for it. However, these narrow-minded trends will only guarantee one thing, our destruction.

All students must make AYP by 2012. If tests are equated from one year to another, raw scores may increase, but no amount of improvment will result in a score distribution with no bottom.

I have read the comments on this topic and there are a couple of things that I find interesting:

A. There are quite a few people that only list their title or interest in this discussion and many of those entries are ill-formed or extreme in opinion. I don't know...maybe it is just my experience but anonymity doesn't breed confidence.

B. There seem to be two sides in all the posts... Either there are those who feel NCLB is a sham and will only destroy education and the other side that feels that this is finally stirring the pot and will force schools to improve. The thing that strikes me is the level of deception going on with the general public. Whether it is the issue of politicians screening out professionally valid opinions or the farce going on that politicians really care about education. IF that were true then why have they asked for all of these requirements without funding the necessary amount? Granted, Congress cannot make any unfunded mandates but there is no talk of purposely underfunded mandates. In my own personal opinion, I agree with the point made a few posts above...this is going to create an education system of the haves and have-nots. Yet this is an argument that never makes national attention. Only recently there was an article in the Chicago Tribune about how the Department of Education is slapping the funding for the Chicago Public schools...they are only allowed to fund tutoring for schools that are failing instead of all low performing schools. Not a single care about quality of education...only the money, and that goes back to my original argument about the proper perspective on the true issue surrounding NCLB. Just for intellectual exercise...assume for the moment that money is what causes influence in Washington (a stretch I know). Now...who seeks to gain from NCLB being passed (educationally, it is obviously not the kids)? I'm willing to bet it is the educational testing and material supply companies. Now...who has the money to exert influence? I think NCLB is a sham... not because of the educational foundation (although I don't think highly of that either) rather because of this lie that is being forced on the kids of this country while under the pretense of helping them.

C. You talk to any teacher considered to be a 'great teacher' and most of them will say that adjusting to the kids is the most important skill that an educator can possess...yet what direction are we going in? Teachers are being turned into no more than living lectures and test givers. Someone could be trained in a weekend to do that, but the politicians insist on highly qualified? Honestly, I have taken those tests and anyone that truly is involved in their subject realizes what a joke those tests are. Half of the questions cover topics that are never discussed in a high school or lower level class and many of the questions are more confusing than actually difficult. In case anyone doubts me, my scores were significantly above the passing score (the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification doesn't give the max score so I don't have that for comparison). What I would find quite interesting would be if someone was interested in educational research, trying to pass every single teacher test even if they are not certified in that area. My guess is that many would be able to pass even in areas they are not trained for. It continues to prove that individual subject matter is not as important as teaching the skills of learning.

D. Even assuming that NCLB was an educationally valid idea, the real statistics contradict the irresponsibility that this law requires. Just taking literacy as the case study, the requirement says that 100% of students have to be proficient. Statistically, with the current education system...this goal is unrealistic. The example often given is Jack Welsh's flex goals (former GE CEO). Flex goals basically center around setting the bar extra high so that anything past normal is a gain above where most people would stop. This is great in business practice, but in the educational setting this is not the way to get kids actively learning. Another misconception that has perpetuated among the populace is that education is something that has to be forced on kids...or professionally known as extrinsic motivation. The true goal should be for intrinsic motivation...getting the kids to see the value of learning and show them that seeking learning on their own will serve them throughout their lives. How often do we encounter that in classrooms today? Do you see that provision in NCLB??

Anyway... I could go on and on...but I think the point is clear. We need to let professionals do their job instead of saying, "we know best...do it this way"

If anyone wants to see more on this: www.kevinfitton.com or email [email protected]

In hearing comments about NCLB and reading those positions here it is clear that there is a difference of opinion. The states have fallen short of their obligation to the students they serve. Under the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA)the states had seven years to implement accountability systems and reflective content standards and at the enactment of NCLB only 11 states had even tried to accomplish this very basic activity towards implementation. If anyone should care to compare IASA with NCLB they will find the laws very similar to one another with a few exceptions and the majority of those exceptions are the accountability requirements. States don't want to expose to the public what they failed to do during the prior seven years. No one likes to be held accountable but the push back for the accountability requirements under NCLB has been phenominal. Every day in some news paper or in a lobbyist's publication there are negative stories one right after another about NCLB. Educators should be smart enough to read what is really being said. They should also do their homework and review what was in the previous law. Most of what was required in the IASA is the same thing required in NCLB with one remarkable difference, states actually have to demonstrate that they have done what they promised they would do when accepting the funds. If standards based assessment isn't what some educators find "authentic" or "acceptable" why don't they recommend what would meet that criteria and still be useful on a large scale. Many come with complaints but few come with viable solutions. States often characterize issues with NCLB as being a "federal" requirement when in fact it is a state prompted interpretation of a requirement. Much of the complaints posted here are not based on NCLB criteria but state issued interpretations. There are a great many smart people out there who might be able to come up with a better way to do things but are they making the recommendations to their state or federal legislators? Complaining is easy. Solving issues is hard work.

Mr. Bush doesn't like educators because we are free thinkers and very serious about the education we are entrusted to provide. It is a very sorry approach to deny serious funding and programming to schools because educators don't fall in line with Mr. Bush's narrowness. NCLB is leaving more children behind than can be measured quickly enough to demonstrate. For every child who is perfectly fine with nothing, but Math, English, Science, Social Studies, and PE; there are two, three, or more who are not fine. Mr. Bush and federal officials are arrogant enough to believe they have the right to choose a child's future regardless of the wishes, dreams, and goals an individual student and his/her parents might have. It is the outcome of NCLB. It is already determining curricula by default. When there are no schools left that can afford electives, students who are in lower socio-economic groups will not have any exposure beyond core classes for decision-making. Research tells us that without the exposure there is no true choice. Then again, maybe that is the effect Mr. Bush is looking for in NCLB.

As a minority parent and parent/child advocate I wish NCLB existed long ago when my children were in elementary.

Minority parents are typically heard at the schools nor are they viewed as valuable stakeholders in decision making roles. NCLB gives me a seat at the table. It gives me rights that although I had all along, I have the law on my side when that right is violated.

No longer can schools with minority students pass the buck where clearly it's the lack of an excellent INSTRUCTIONAL and MANAGEMENT style at the building that prevents our children from obtaining a proper education.

NCLB prevents educators from lowering the standards for our most needy students and getting away with it.

I can hold the school and district and state accountable. I can demand to see the school/district plan to improve academic achievement for my ethnic group and not have to justify or be embarrassed by it.

I have a voice that the law says must be heard. I have options where I didn't have them before. My voice must heard on how the Title 1 funds are spent in my district/school.

I believe NCLB (Title 1) stands up for and speaks for the minority, lowest-income parents and students. For too long we have been left behind.

NCLB has opened up a whole new world of sytemic education change. NCLB ensures educators are focusing their efforts on ensuring that ALL students are given the appropriate opportunity to learn.

"Education is quickly becoming child centered (imagine that)." Quote from another poster, I couldn't agree with you more.

I, too, believe it's unfortunate, some states have been neglecting their responsibilities to provide a high quality education for every child. Many of the negative effects of NCLB that I hear and read about are state issues. In my state democract governor) often times the information trickling down from the state was either wrong or half-truths creating an atomosphere of disharmony among educators and parents.

I also agree that the negative decisons being made in reaction to NCLB are being made at the state and local level.

As a parent/child advocate I make it my business to attend as many district meetings as possible and be a watchdog to ensure that the appropriate educational decisions are being made for the students in my community. Yes, school leaders who make decisions that negatively impact their local edcuation systems need to be accountable, however, in my district that has not happened for far too long. I support NCLB and its mission to ensure that all students receive an appropriate public education.

As someone previously stated on this board: NCLB is early in its infancy, working to make it a true education reform act will require great patience and vigilance in a PROACTIVE manner.

I just moved my family from Puerto Rico, where education is in spanish, to Virginia. It was then that I heard about all this great programs NCLB/ESL. It was a rude awakening after school started and I found out that none of my sons teachers speak spanish and there ain't any available at Virginia Beach, as stated by the ESL Office, "If I had a spanish speaking teacher then I will need one for each language..."
I am very concerned and confused specially watching my sons degrading academically, a Honor Roll student (Middle School) down to C and D, and a "B" student (High School) down to "D" and "E".
I have talked to both schools, ESL Office, and Virginia Beach Department of Education and the only help offered/suggested was to leave my sons for after school tutorial, which I have done. Still there is a language barrier required to flow the knowledge and open a communication path between "mentor" and student.
I am very sure not to be the only one in this situation. Just want to bring up how NCLB and ESL is working to a family in Virginia Beach.
Thank you.

I feel that schools are taking a closer look at their educational system to see what is lacking and what areas we need to address. I see students making more progress in reading and math in our school. I see teachers looking closer at state standards and aligning their curriculum. Summer sessions are held where teachers plan what is to be taught during the school year. We are being held accountable. Yes, there are a lot of problems and some things might be unrealistic, but for the most part, I feel that NCLB has put teachers on their toes.

I have no problem with aligned curriculum, higher standards and increased expectations. I have no problem with using assessment to guide my teaching. I do, however, have a problem with the expectation that by the year 2012 ALL my students will be able to pass our state test. You see, I teach 4th grade in Michigan where the MEAP reigns supreme. I teach in a school where 85% of my students qualify for free or reduced lunch. I teach children who are more worried about challenges they face at home than what will be on tomorrow's math test. I teach children who truly want to be in school because it is a safe place for them. I teach children and I watch them thrive both academically and emotionally in my class. I will continue to celebrate successes, however small, with my students.

NCLB and AYP are a joke because Michigan's state test is scored on a bell curve. I wonder if that will finally be reevaluated before 2012.

In school districts throughout Virginia, NCLB is resulting in tremendous gains for minority students. School districts have been forced to reevaluate how they teach and apply data-driven instructional methods. Minority test scores in districts throughout Virginia including Richmond and Norfolk have risen dramatically.

One problem, however, is Virginia's application of the NCLB law, which leaves schools unaccountable for subgroups of less than 50 students. In predominately-white districts like Fairfax County, the result is that most elementary schools are held accountable only for their "white" scores because rarely will the two tested grades have 50 students in any of the minority subgroups. Thus, Fairfax County has little incentive to embark on the kind of reforms that have boosted minority achievement in poorer districts around the state.

Thus, it is left to people like me to embarrass my school district into embarking on serious reform by publicizing wherever possible the data NCLB provides.

Today, for instance, I prepared a chart comparing the performance of the ten Virginia school districts that have the largest African American populations. This chart compared both the "black" and "white" elementary school SOL pass rates of Fairfax County, Richmond City, Norfolk, Newport News, Virginia Beach, Henrico County, Prince William County, Chesterfield County, Chesapeake City, and Hampton City. All of these districts have over 10,000 black students.

With respect to white scores, Fairfax County was not the top performer on any of the tests, but came within a few percentage points of the top performers on most.

Black pass rates in Fairfax County, on the other hand, were the LOWEST among the ten districts on 7 of the 8 elementary SOL tests, and next to lowest on the one remaining test.

Fairfax County, by the way, is regarded as one of the premier school districts in the nation, so some people might be stunned by these results.

The results were not surprising to me because I have children in some of the more diverse Fairfax County schools. I have observed on too many occasions that talk about high expectations is just that - talk. And I have heard the excuses over and over and over again - the home, the lack of parental involvement, the culture, the poverty. Are these problems really more acute in wealthy Fairfax County than in the city of Richmond or the city of Norfolk?

All of this data coming from NCLB brings great news. We know now that poor minority children really can learn. We know a lot more about how they learn best. The 2012 deadline does not seem impossible after all, at least not for some of these high-poverty districts. As for prestigious and wealthy Fairfax County, however, it just depends on when they wake up.

I worked as an Senior Education Specialist (GS14) for the United States Department of Education for one year. This gave me privy to the inner workings of the Department as well as the quality and substance of the people that worked within the Department.

NCLB simply does not work. Why? The people who are responsible for the creation and implementation of this mandate have had little or NO experience in the actual classroom.

The Pod I was involved with is called OELA. This group of so called "specialists" worked with states and state directors involved in the education of "English Language Learners."

The majority of "specialists" had never taught in a classroom and had no clue what a language minority student had to deal with as far as curricula in English; never mind the testing.

The main objective was and continues to be making sure that all States were adhering to the Legislation and following each and every rule contained within NCLB.

Children need to be taught according to their learning style, not taught to the test.

It is ridiculous to assume a child, English speaker or not, will "achieve higher academic standards" because of a law that was written by people with no school district experience and then enforced by people within the Department of Education with no knowledge of the actual day to day running of a school district.

NCLB will never work. The proof is in the pudding. We have a higher rate of dropouts than ever before.

It's time for superintendents and state directors to rebel. Teachers already know the truth.

My concern with NCLB stems also from whom is this measure taken? Are the "professionals" who wrote NCLB people who have worked with the special education population - do they know these children with disabilities? I would like to have the authors of NCLB witness a child with autism trying to take this test? Should an entire district suffer because the students with learning and developmental disabilities are exactly who they are? If they could pass grade level tests on grade level - they wouldn't be in special education. Testing child with special needs at their own personal instructional level and then looking for growth is reasonable, but asking a 10 year old child with autism to prove proficiency on the same test and at the same time as his/her 10 year old peers is unreasonable. To add insult to injury, to punish the school and the district for these children being who they are and working were they work is an indicator to further support Dr. Dunn's (response from 12/17)findings - which are disturbing at best. This thinking will pit regular educator against special educator within the districts who are unable to reach AYP and cannot get into Safe Harbor because of their special education population. This is no longer about guaranteeing proficiency, it's now punitive to an entire population of students. The results are similar for ELL and other subgroups but the effects are most prominent for the special needs population. This way of testing totally ignores the need for differentiation within mixed groups of students as well as any thought of reasonable and attainable goal setting at IEP meetings because now we MUST use NCLB as the goal. Students who struggle to read and write are repeatedly discouraged. Now they become the target group to who everyone must hammer home test skills and writing skills in order to get them over that proficiency hump. Once they meet the magic number, its on to the next student who needs to break the magic number. Are they becoming successful in class or in the world? Are we teaching them to learn or to take tests? Are we really setting all of our students up to succeed by meeting NCLB?

What I think NCLB is advocating and inciting is an awareness and accountability to the educators, parents/adult/child caregivers,students and the government.

It doesn't discriminate nor segregate any of the aforementioned parties, we're all in this together. We've (educators, parents/adult/child caregivers, students & government) been allocated funds and positions of opportunity to work together and help one another.

It means a more immersive role for each participant involved. It means bearing one another's burdens and esteeming each other higher than ourselves. It keeps us humble.

A lot of times we look at the short term effects of change. What the President is doing is investing in the future of these United States. He sees a rich commodity (our children), and it behooved him to make a dynamic move and invest in this resource.

He can't do it without all of us on board. Whether we agree or not with NCLB, it is in some sorts that parental excercise of authority. Knowing what's best for all of his kids, even though the kids whine and complain while they get their work done.

I'm not making fun of or taking anyone's opinion lightly. This is a passionate subject that has a lot of people up in arms and concerned. But consider all things thus far. Have any of the mandates been impossible to perform? They may require a much more concerted effort from all parties listed, but they are all doable tasks.

Short version: President Bush determined to give all children an equal education, while holding those given in authority the policies to get the job done. It's not the answer to every single problem in education out there, but it has incorporated an equation that equals equitable challenges when hard work is applied.


NCLB has stolen the most valuable aspects from childhood: self construction, self discovery, self initiative. Reducing education to test scores contributes to the distressing perils of youth, including hampering moral development.

Children come to school either with anxiety about their test scores, arrogance because the tests are too easy and the teachers spend too much time drilling strategies, or disinterest and rebellion because the tests flat out do not meet the needs of children developing as individuals.

The study done by the Commisssion on Children at Risk titled Hard-wired to Connect concludes that children are biologically, psychologically and culturally hard-wired to need moral and spiritual meaning in their lives.

Montessori curriculum and methods honor the spirit of the child and allow the 'spark of imagination' to fuel a child's inner drive and self initiative. Connected to the universe through the 'cosmic education' the child becomes committed to finding his place and making a contribution to the betterment of the world.

While test scores might be able to measure that, children who feel connected to their world learn and grow to be happy and responsible, caring adults. This can be measured in many more ways than an academic test.

It's time to keep the good part of NCLB, especially the commitment to qualified teachers, and get rid of the bad, measuring human growth on tests to measure human development all at the same time, when every thing we know about human development confirms that we grow and learn at our own pace.

Please politicians, listen to your education professionals, respect child development, and respect our young people's inherent right to self determination, self discovery. Stop stealing these from childhood.

NCLB has stolen the most valuable aspects from childhood: self construction, self discovery, self initiative. Reducing education to test scores contributes to the distressing perils of youth, including hampering moral development.

Children come to school either with anxiety about their test scores, arrogance because the tests are too easy and the teachers spend too much time drilling strategies, or disinterest and rebellion because the tests flat out do not meet the needs of children developing as individuals.

The study done by the Commisssion on Children at Risk titled Hard-wired to Connect concludes that children are biologically, psychologically and culturally hard-wired to need moral and spiritual meaning in their lives.

Montessori curriculum and methods honor the spirit of the child and allow the 'spark of imagination' to fuel a child's inner drive and self initiative. Connected to the universe through the 'cosmic education' the child becomes committed to finding his place and making a contribution to the betterment of the world.

While test scores might be able to measure that, children who feel connected to their world learn and grow to be happy and responsible, caring adults. This can be measured in many more ways than an academic test.

It's time to keep the good part of NCLB, especially the commitment to qualified teachers, and get rid of the bad; measuring human growth on tests that try to measure human development for all children at the same time. This practice defies all knowledge which demonstrates that human development is individual, we grow and learn at our own pace.

Please politicians, listen to your education professionals; respect child development, and respect our young people's inherent right to self determination, self discovery. Stop stealing these from childhood.

I found this in 1/13/05 CNN Online:

"We're not interested in mediocrity," Bush said at the school, which was the lowest-performing among those in relatively prosperous Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1997, but met its academic goals under No Child Left Behind Act in the 2003-04 school year. "We're interested in excellence so not one single child is left behind in our country," he said.

I don't know...maybe it is just me, but isn't testing entirely concerned with 'mediocrity'? Aren't tests designed in such a way as to designate a minimum passing score and after passing that score the rest is candy..? Every time I hear or read something about what Bush has done lately, I honestly wonder if people ever examine what is happening around them.

Goals 2000, Educate America, No Child Left Behind. I was eating this stuff up when I learned that part and parcel of this legislative package deemed arts as core, signed it into law and declared arts education will share the glory as an equal to the other core subjects delivered in our public school curriculum today. Pour the water of education over me. With the overcrowding at M.I.T. I'm sure all the faculty there breathed a sigh of relief. What bothers me though, is my state still has art as an elective and has yet to make the demands for schools to teach art as core. So, all of the students are becoming scientists and mathematicians (at least they are in my state). Now they don't have to be forced to make time for an elective! Thus the necessary student allocation has fallen for my class and it has been mentioned to me that I might have to start looking elsewhere for work. Does this mean my (EX) school will no longer teach art? I have spent the last decade changing careers, working as an advocate for arts education and now I learn that the arts program I have nurtured and had some success with will be shut down because the Russians are still coming. I'm worried for children, teachers and real learning. This threat to arts education (health/PE are facing the same consequences)percolates upward. I don't deny standards, they are needed, they are something to jump over and move on, not to bow before as an educational icon. I guess I'll have to be a risk taker and make some demands just like the NCLB promoters: No teach, no money! Yeah, right.

I teach at a school that has 99% Title I students. The teachers are overwhelmed with the continual barrage of threats if our scores do not improve. We are also underseige by the need for accountability at every turn. We need to have focus walls that prove were are implementing the approved program and everyone is afraid of being found doing what we belive we need to do to get our students to learn. The morale of our school is at an all time low. Wewill never meet the federal mandates with this population of students. I have three students who have missed 35 days of school already. The parents are not being held accountable nor are the students. NCLB is a flawed program which I believe is trying to put public school out of business.

My child is dyslexic. I have refused the CATS testing the last 4 years. Reading the test to dyslexic students does not make up for this flawed program. CATS does not count toward their grade. Kentucky does not recognize Dyslexia as a disability, they call it a Severe Learning Deficit. The schools do not accomodate for dyslexia, nor are teachers are trained on dyslexia. Of course I get tons of flack about the CATS, but I'm standing up for what I believe.

NCLB is a good theory. In reality, many of the schools in Texas are teaching the test and nothing else. When teachers are required to "switch" classes so that those not passing the test can be tutored ALL DAY plus 2 hours in the afternoon, THAT is OVERKILL! This bizarre testing will prove to be the biggest disaster in history. Children ten years old are saying, "When I get sixteen, I'm dropping out of school!" The stress level of 10 year olds is unbelievable...stomach aches, crying, vomiting. Principals are saying, "You had better pass this test are you will be staying in XXX grade!" Teachers are copying TAKS sheets to the tune of 40,000 to 50,000 copies in a year. Teachers are TEACHING with TAKS worksheets. There is no time for Art, Cultural Academics, Reading for pleasure, Classics, Experiments (except for the TAKS questions), Play. These children are developmentally raped of their childhood in school because, as usual, good common sense is not used. Why? Because of the threat of withholding funds from Texas schools! You are wrong about how you are implementing this, Mr. President. And I voted for you! But you don't know the straight skinny in the State of Texas! Shame on you for doing what you are doing to children across this State. Children can learn and teachers can teach without brow beating them into a test format. I see children who cannot think in any other terms but what is on the TAKS test. Real life situations are falling by the wayside and, folks, SOMEBODY better do something to stop this insanity!

Here is just a bit of "reality" when it comes to the political discussion of who is to "blame" for NCLB: The final version of the NCLB legislation was passed in December 2001 by a vote of 381-41 in the U.S. House of Representatives and 87-10 in the U.S. Senate. Obviously, the bill received overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats.

The one positive comment I can make about NCLB is that is has brought attention to the need for parents (particularly minority parents) to be involved in their children's education and has forced some schools to make a conscious deliberate effort to include parents in the educational process.

Any one who has been involved in schools and education knows that parents can sometimes be difficult but that should not give school administrators and teachers permission to exclude them or make their inclusion minimal.

The parent involvement initiative should always be a part of any federal, state or local program to increase student achievement; whether it's call NCLB or something else.
Detra Davis

Our government . . . which includes both parties . . . only funds 7% of public education and yet this same government has the money to fund the following:
· $10,000,000 for the International Fund for Ireland;
· $3,000,000 for the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation;
· $1.7 million for the International Fertilizer Development Center;
· $1,430,000 for various Halls of Fame, including $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., and $70,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis.;
· $350,000 for the Inner Harmony Foundation and Wellness Center in Scranton, Penn.;
· $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation; and

Would not our taxes be better used to help educate our children? A child's education is becoming increasingly fundemental to his or her ability to succeed financial in the future.

The education-for-profit business I am involved with uses NCLB-derived funds to send a Dell computer to the student, which they keep after 20-40 hours of live, accredited, personalized tutoring with a cerified on-line teacher.

The students gain over 1.0 years in the skill (math or reading) and the family gets introduced to the world of the Internet.
Not a bad deal for the 2-3k taxpayer contribution the NCLB program gives to students in low-achieving school systems around our country.

Hey, GW Bush is not solely responsible for America's educational crisis. If you think he is, you are likely a product of one of these inadequate institutions who have failed to meet minimum educational standards in our failing urban and rural schools across the land.

Let's stop griping, pointing fingers and name-calling and start holding our communities, parents, teachers, and students accountable for educating our youth.

What we need to do is take the power to control education out of the hands of politicians and give it back to educators.

What we need to do is take the power to control education out of the hands of politicians and give it back to educators.

I am committed to repealing NCLB for all the above reasons and more. It will be a long fight, but it is such a flawed law that the only good thing about it is when it will be repealed. I encourage those who feel so strongly as everyone who has responded so far to find your local group or create one that will work towards dismantling this travesty and put in place REAL help and reform.

I am committed to repealing NCLB for all the above reasons and more. It will be a long fight, but it is such a flawed law that the only good thing about it is when it will be repealed. I encourage those who feel so strongly as everyone who has responded so far to find your local group or create one that will work towards dismantling this travesty and put in place REAL help and reform.

So many discussion that doesn't help. Does anybody heard of dyscalculia. So many students are failing bec. of math or Algebra. School need to hire teachers who are trained to teach math not just reading and writing.

With teachers like this (adela,above), so fluent in written expression, who needs politicians to screw up our kids?

With teachers like this (adela,above), so fluent in written expression, who needs politicians to dumb down our kids?

Everybody hang on tight...elections are coming up and we can be rest assured that NCLB will be addressed. If not then get ready to march:)
I have the experience to know that the pendulum will swing and enough confidence in my fellow teachers and their students that we will get through this unscathed.

While the NCLB may have been good in theory, I have serious concerns about its role in truly promoting development and learning in children. As a mother who recently registered her first-born in Kindergarten, my expeience has been bitter-sweet. As part of the registration packet provided to me by the school was a home survey form that I was required to fill out for my child. In the form I stated my daughter's (a U.S. citizen) pimary language to be English while the language at home was listed as English and Hindi (which my husband and I speak alongwith English). My daughter has attended private daycares/preschools since she was 2 months old and speaks English fluently (infact she does not speak Hindi at all) and is reading English at grade 1 level. However, based on the parents native language, she has been asked to take the English proficiency test before her registration to the public school will be considered complete. My five year old asked me--- "when I speak, understand and write English as well as my other friends i school why am I being asked to take the test and not them. Am I different?" I feel that the very nature by which the survey is conducted and "eligible" students identified sets them up for failures in their own eyes, in the eyes of their peers, lowered expectations, and lack of access to regular curriculum. All of these will certainly prove to be detrimental to their self-esteem and learning.

I applaud the thought behind NCLB and providing extra opportunities for non-English speaking children to enhance their academic growth. But I have reservations about the way this is being carried out.

(1)Child educators and experts agree that young children such as those entering kindergarten are "poor test takers" and such standardized tests will not yield valid and reliable results leading to misclassifying and misdiagnosing the children. This will cause them to miss out on the most optimal learning opportunities if they are tracked into inappropriate learning environment. In addition it will affect their self esteem due to segregation and lack of access to regular curriculum.

(2) Experts admit that the English proficiency tests are neither reliable nor their validity proven beyond doubt. Infact some consultants believe that these tests can be used as instruments to generate large or small number of LEPs based on scores. This may potentially make these a "money making tool" rather than being used for the optimal development of the child.

(3) Presuming that a child will be deficient in English simply based on the parents native language and subjecting them to the English proficiency test (and the risk of misclassification due to reasons cited above) is a serious flaw in identifying eligible LEPs. This way of subjecting sub-sets of populations to tests also sows seeds of discrimination based on national origin etc in young perceptable minds which can never be healthy for a child and the future citizens of this country. Instead identifying English deficiency through achievements tests/placements tests conducted on the entire student populations will help identify the students who actually need help---whether it is reading, comprehension, writing or any other area/subject irrespective of their national origin, native language, socio-economic factors or home environment. It will also help appropriate the funds correctly to where it is required.

(4)Based on scores generated from potentially aberrant standardized tests leads to placing children in homogenous settings when in fact children grow most optimally in heterogenous environment. Placing children in homogenous environment may help make the task easier for the educators and administrators but is clearly not in the best interest of the child's development.

(5) Young children cannot be assessed simply based on paper-pencil tests. rather their assessment should be ongoing and conducted over a period of time that fosters co-operation from the child and allows his/her best abilities to come forward rather than subjecting them to a scary test environment which will most definitely skew the results. Observation or tests at one given point cannot provide a complete picture of the child's development.

I hope that the policy-makers will truly keep the children's best interest in heart while making such decisions.

“Highly Qualified Teacher” in Special Education?

This is an offensive and demeaning term and a ridiculous part of the law. As an example, I have spent 32 years dedicated to the field of special education. I have a BS & MA in special education with an additional 45 hours in special education administration. I have presented at state & national special education conferences. However, due to NCLB I am now NOT qualified to teach anything! I have no general education license & this makes it even more troubling as compared to those who do. Of the 15 teachers in my building, only 3 are “highly qualified” because they teach students using alternative assessments. To change the requirements for veteran teachers is nothing short of a slap in the face to all the dedicated & experienced teachers in this field.

To tell veteran special education teachers who have met their state licensing requirements that they are not qualified is like telling the members of Congress that they must:
1. Have a degree in political science.
2. Have a degree or a certain number of hours in the field for every committee they serve on. For example, to be on the education committee they must have a degree or hours in education, finance committee - a degree or hours in finance, agriculture - a degree or hours in agriculture, etc.

I wonder how they would feel about that.
I understand the intent, but this is not the way to attain it.

I'm sorry, but just because a school scores high on yearly tests and NCLB guidelines does not necessarily mean that that school is doing a good job teaching STUDENTS. Not all students are alike (as I am sure almost every parent and teacher would agree), and therefore not all students will be proficient at meeting these standards. Too many schools now are simply drilling students with test-taking strategies and pressure to "pass" the test, without taking into account the myriad creative, intellectual, and personal differences that make true learning a wonderful, unique thing. In fact, I would be wary of schools that are known for their "high achievement on state tests," because I don't think that a lot of true learning is going on in those places. Since when have we adopted this mentality that every student has to be the same?? Getting all "subgroups" of students to be proficient on these tests does not demonstrate knowledge, learning, or achievement - each student brings their own set of talents, gifts, and desires to school - it should be our job to teach each student to their strengths, not ensure that every student meets the same static criteria. I fear that this law is leaving more students behind than before - what we need is to give every student (no matter what their background) a CHANCE, not a TEST.

NCLB will reduce the achievement level of our nation's gifted population. Many of these students are proficient on or before day one of class so requiring them to take a test in March
to document their performance does not mean they will learn anything new. The repeated sequence
year after year adds insult to injury. Also
please consider, if you will, the ease at creating an appearance of a closing achievement gap by keeping the gifted learning little (achieving less) as compared to raising the floor.
I live in a world that will need the finest minds
to face the fututre's challenges. It is unacceptable to lose them to a government initia-
tive that fails to consider reality- individual differences.

I read the Oxymoron article regarding NCLB. We cannot expect all students to be proficient at the same levels. I think the negatively named NCLB should be changed to "Every Child Working to Potential." Expectations and proficiency levels could then be adjusted for the wide range of IQ's, ability levels, and physical capabilities.

I think that it is wrong why should we punish the bright children for the specials childrens disinvantage...

As someone who deals with the implications of NCLB everyday.....

1) If you bring your children to the US you should expect they will get an English speaking teacher who teaches in English.
2) NCLB forces us to teach to the test. We are passing along a whole generation of children that know virtually nothing of Science, Social Studies, Music, Art, or P.E.
3) It is insane to think that all children will ever perform at the same academic level. That is not the reality of the human race.
4) With NCLB and all of our immigrant children, we have ultimately watered down our education system to make it look like we are succedding. In reality, we have more uneducated students than ever before.
I think the entire system is in need of reform and some hard line stances.

The Ohio Graduation Test was formulated to follow the mandates of NCLB. This law has created chaos and uncertainty for school districts within the state as they scramble to abide by the dictates of this law. My best friend is a native of Mexico and has lived in this country since 1990. She is a teacher of her native language, yet is not considered highly qualified because she cannot pass one portion of the three-part Praxis (being seven points short of the required score). This law is detrimental to the entire educational system, regardless of the good intentions of President Bush.

NCLB tells me that my school is failing.
NCLB tells me that my students are failing.
NCLB tells me that I am failing.

My 7th grade students that moved from a 2nd grade reading level to a 5th grade reading level tell me that they have learned so much this last year and can't wait to learn more next year. But they are sorry they couldn't pass the 7th grade test.

Who is failing who?

The advocates of NCLB do not recognize the relationship between intelligence and academic achievement. It is preposterous to expect all students to be on grade level by 2014. Students of below average intelligence do not respond well to interventions. Basic reading skills may be more remediable, but reading comprehension is more a function of general intelligence, once decoding skills are adequate. Moreover, providing "high quality" instruction increases performance differences between the intellectually dull and bright, as the bright students derive greater benefit from improved instruction. In Florida, approximately 40% of students drop out og high school, and I believe this statistic is similar nationwide. This statistic suggests that the curriculum is too difficult for these students, who therefore need a more vocational/trade-school curriculum at the high school level. This will never happen however, as politiciand get elected to office by saying all children can go to college.

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