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Rethinking Accountability


In the debate over the future of the No Child Left Behind Act, many policymakers, educators, and researchers seem to agree on one thing: The federal law's accountability system should be rewritten so it rewards or sanctions schools on the basis of students' academic growth. Congress, they say, should scrap the current model, which judges schools on the number of their students who are deemed proficient.

What do you think? What changes would you make to the law's accountability system?


Goals for NCLB should be reasonable and attainable. 100% proficiency is not an attainable goal because each state defines proficiency a different way; there are no national standards to test for proficiency. In addition the goals are set in absolute percentages rather than looking at progress. As long as schools progress year to year, they should not be labeled PI. The other problem is that school that are PI get the bulk of the funding in order to “improve” so schools that are meeting their goals are “punished” by receiving less money from the government. What sense does that make?

The school that I work at gets additional support because we need to desperately improve. It will be unfortunate in some ways when we do because we will lose the staff and support that is necessary to get there. Even with the current "extra" help, we are, like so many public urban schools, tragically under-resourced.

The best accountability system is vouchers.

Let each family choose the school they feel is a best fit.

Allow parents to move when they're not happy with a school.

Instant accountability. Schools for all types of families. No government oversight.

I would offer up instead of NCLB, my state's rigorous Missouri School Improvement Program.

Instead of looking exclusively at achievement, MSIP Uses 3 overall areas. First, Resource standards look at things like a well rounded curriculum with fine arts and electives, staffing, and class sizes. Second, Process standards look at the instructional design and practices, differentiation, and instructional support. Finally, Performance standards focus on student achievement and dropout rates.

Schools are complex institutions made of individuals. Simplistically focusing only on test scores in reading and math, while important, miss es the point. The test currently drives the curriculum. While inextricably linked, this is topsy-turvy. Curriculum should drive the test. The cart and the horse are closely linked, but NCLB has the cart pulling the horse.

The purpose of schools to teach students how to learn, not to teach them how to take an achievement test. Evaluate a school upon its purpose, learning. Evaluating it on something other than it's purpose, derails it from it's mission.

If you evaluate using achievement test scores, then the purpose of the school will become test scores. Rich schools will do well. Poor schools will not.

If you evaluate the teaching methods, support, climate, achievement, and resulting graduations, then these will again become the schools missions. Teaching students to learn is the mission of schools, not test scores.

There is more on my blog What is School 2.0?

I fail to see why it is so hard for legislators to understand. This is one country, and one country should have a national standard.

To get there is another thing. It would mean that all the little Napoleon's in each state have to let go of the reins somewhat and get in line to do what they are supposed to do. Manage an educational system that puts learning first.

Obviously to have a national standard you have to have a national test, otherwise it is just lip service to a feel-good-at-any-cost concept.

But just as importantly you need to recognize what kind of teachers you have in the system. One of the only ways I know of to do that is if the administrators get feedback. If we have a standard, what is expected to be learned at any given grade level, then providing that feedback really isn't that hard. Test scores are one thing and should be used, but as pointed out can be fudged by either teaching the test, and/or playing games with statistics, we need something additional.

Suppose, at the beginning of the school year the 7th grade Math teacher (all teachers in practice) sent a report in to the principle, a student report specifying which students had the prerequisite skills for 7th grade Math. That report would identify students who were not educated to a standard in the 6th grade. Now a few students who weren't up to snuff is one thing but if the administration starts seeing that a lot of students are below par and are coming from one teacher, that is something to investigate.

One of the excuses teachers use for not being able to bring students to the level of proficiency that is desired for that grade level is that students do not have the basic skills necessary. And a good teacher will try to teach the prerequisite skills at the same time as teaching the new skills - very difficult to do and in the long run it detracts from the syllabus that should be followed.

In the business world you are held accountable for your performance, why should teaching be any different?

"The purpose of schools to teach students how to learn, not to teach them how to take an achievement test."

I second that!

Some of the responses to these questions are truly remarkable. It's more fun than listening to Rush prattle on. For instance, Carol thinks the best accountability system is vouchers. What a joke. Instant accountability, she writes, and no government oversight. Sounds like a match made in heaven for George Bush and Company. Plain and simple, vouchers are a scam and pushed mostly by those who want the "Government" to pay for what they don't want to pay for themselves. How's that for hypocrisy? It gets even better with Jim E., educational math consultant(whatever that is). If this guy has ever taught one day in an inner city public school system I'd be really surprised. If you want 13 year olds in third grade, he's your man. Better yet, we'll give vouchers to 50 sixth graders who are two to three years behind in reading and math, send them to Carol and Jim's private school, and watch them work their magic by the time they reach seventh grade. Sounds like an experiment waiting to happen. Come to think of it, why hasn't that experiment happened?

Michael X - I find it interesting that you deducted from my post that I was talking about failing students - where did you get 13 year olds in the third grade from? I pointed to accountability of teachers and trying to figure out a way to identify teachers who were not educating - so that the system could do something about them. Or are you claiming that every teacher is a good one and it is the kids that are hopeless?

You're a teacher and you do not know what the word consultant means? The word Math indicates a specialty as opposed to a generalist.

By using your example of giving vouchers to 50 6th graders who are behind, you emphasize my point. Some teachers are not getting through to the kids - those teachers need to be identified and the reason they are not getting through to them identified so something else can be tried. Or are you saying we should just push the kids through school ?

Accountability should have three cross-checks

1. Principal evaluated by other principals, teachers and students
2. Teachers evaluated by other teachers, principal and students
3. Students evaluated by other students, principal and teachers

This would all make a lot more sense,Jim, had you taught for even the shortest amount of time in an urban public school setting. I'm not faulting you for not having done so. We all have our rolls to fill. I don't know of any other profession, though, where so much criticizing and expertise is proffered by those having no experience whatsoever. If you or any of your other friends think we are going to "manage" our way out of the problems facing our urban public schools you are seriously mistaken. Look at any successful public, private or charter school and the evidence for that success is readily apparent to anyone with their eyes open, and it nothing to do with management. If you like, start with the list by US News about the top 100 public schools in the country. Probably 99.9% of those schools are in exclusive neighborhoods or are open to students by application only. That means they got the brightest students from the local public schools to begin with, regardless of whether they are white or black, rich or poor. They might as well have chosen private schools themselves. Next try getting from KIPP charter schools the third and fourth grade state test scores of their incoming fifth graders. They will give you every excuse in the book, including contradictory ones, why they don't have them. The scores that they show are test scores giving at KIPP by KIPP. The list is endless. We've made criticizing low scoring public schools a boom for think tanks, so called non profits like the Education Trust and, well, others who haven't the faintest idea the difficulties real urban public school teachers face. On the other hand, if you'd like a tour of a school for a few hours, give them a call.

Michael X - This absolutely amazes me. You make assumptions that have nothing to do with the import of what I posted originally and rant about it (the 13 year olds in the third grade and failing students), you turn your supposed learned discussion into personal attacks (assuming I have never taught and/or that since I haven't taught in a school you approve of I have no reason to think), and you seem to think that teaching in an urban school is the only prerequisite for thinking about the problem that has validity. You bring up that you think I am talking about "managing our way out of the problems" when I never mentioned that concept at all.

I didn't ever say that the concept I proposed was a panacea, or even the end all solution, I said that accountability has to happen, you have to identify teachers who are not doing their jobs and proposed one way it might be done.

Do urban schools have different, more distinct problems than an urban school from an upper scale neighborhood, or an inner city school - certainly it does. Did I ever say it didn't?

Go back and read the initial post, all I pointed to was trying to find a way to identify teachers that were not doing their job.

The tone of your posts make me believe that you have decided that urban public schools have such a list of problems that there is nothing left to do.

I deal with schools that are 50-73% economically disadvantaged, that is a state determination not mine. Urban I won't guess at your definition of urban, the ones we deal with are small districts, districts with only one class per grade, sometimes two. Districts where the property tax base is also economically disadvantaged. One school I deal with has one teacher for 6th, 7th and 8th grade math, no one wants to teach there.

I am sure that the problems encountered in the school you deal with is different than the: gangs, absenteeism, drop out rate, lack of supplies, lack of teacher salary, lack of substitutes, lack of teachers in one case, lack of text books, lack of technology, lack of everything that these districts do. These districts have trouble getting anyone to even move close enough to commute to work, much less live there.

I'm not going to turn this into an advertisement, but we have made a difference, and we have the data to show it. A difference with teachers and administrators who said the same thing as you appear to be saying, "these kids can't and won't do it, it won't make a difference."

There are teachers who have given up, are burned out, and teachers who have no business teaching, just as there are teachers who fight everyday to get through to the few students who want an education, to deny that problem exists and place the blame on the student population is ludicrous. The subject of the discussion was accountability, and accountability means finding a way to insure that teaching is what is happening, not marking time towards retirement as is sometimes the case.

We're done here, maybe we can toss words back and forth on another subject sometime where you stick to the topic.

How does accountability look in a Response to Intervention (RTI) model? In summary, all students are taught the general education curriculum, based on the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), in tier one. Those who do not respond, or respond minimally, are moved into tier two, where they receive small group instruction on identified skills deficits (ratio 5 students to 1 teacher; 30 minutes daily, for 10-12 weeks, 1 or 2 rounds). Non-responders are moved to tier three, the most intensive academic support (ratio 3 students to 1 teacher; 50 minutes daily, for 12-14 weeks, 1 or 2 rounds). Intervention time is cumulative, with students in tier 2 receiving instruction in both tier 1 and tier 2, and so on. Ongoing formative assessment at all three tiers is a prerequisite of this model, as is empirically based instruction.

Depending on whose research you're reading (and on who is implementing the model), special education services may or may not be available at any of these tiers. Using this model, it is possible to delay special education services to students for at least 24 weeks, more than ½ a school year!

At what point in this complex model does the teacher receive the label of non-responder, and not the student? How do we balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the group? In my opinion, it is overwhelmingly about leadership: We need supportive, ethical administrators to stand up for students, teachers, and parents, rather than bullying out, or not inviting in, those who are the most qualified to educate our youth, tiers or no tiers.

Michael X is right on the mark. But the issue is accountability and a quick scan of the comments reveals nothing about holding the student accountable for learning. Teachers should be held accountable for teaching, but to base the relative success or failure of a school or its teachers on some measurable aspect of its students sounds like a recipe for getting rid of teachers who are not favored by administration and/or union busting. Some broad generalizations permeated the responses (especially by Jim E.) as though all students have the same preparation, or students are assigned to teachers in some objective, random way (instead of the existing process whereby the "dregs" are given to the new teacher while the dept. chair or some other administrative lacky gets the self-motivated); now, who's students do you think are going to do well on a test? In the set up to this blog, it was written that ..."many Policy makers, educators and researchers...agree". Well, as usual, I see nothing there about teachers. Administrators love to call themselves "educators", and policy makers and researchers as well as most administrators haven't spent a day in the classroom since they graduated. So many of these panels of so-called experts include so few teachers. It's like the law in NH that says you can't have even 1 current teacher on the local school board or, for that matter, the state board of ed. We are a large and diverse country, unlike many of those countries against whom the pundits frequently compare us. They are small enough and have a more homogeneous population than the US and to compare our students against theirs on some international test is comparing apples and oranges and is a meaningless statistic, used by those who would destroy our public schools or use it to substantiate their reasons for being a so-called educational consultant. I'll close with a story I read about 10 years ago. A contingent of high ranking Japanese educators were touring schools in the US. A reporter asked them what they could possible learn from us since their students always outshone ours on international tests. The response was, "yes, they do well on tests, but that's about all they CAN do".

School psychologists (LSSP's) are often placed in administrative roles over teachers, yet they are required to have zero teaching experience themselves.
And...what is the role of the school psychologist in a RTI model? What are they doing while they act in the role of gatekeepers for special education services? These questions are currently being addressed in both school psychology, general education, and special education journals. In the interim, I suggest these highly educated professionals are highly paid and highly underutilized.

I believe the NCLB Act is hurting these children and these teenagers that are attending school now. The teachers are really getting over when it comes to this Act. I had my last child in the public school here in the states. She wasn't learning much of anything and the teacher only contacted me, if I would leave word at the desk in the office to do so. I brought her back into the Dodds school system where I knew there was not going tobe no passing to the next grade unless she did the work to do so. I am so embrass at the way the teachers have just started really recognizing that they need to speak up in this matter. I have gotten so angry at teachers that feel they have no "say' in anything that is dealing with education. The NCLB ACT was brought about because of the carelessness of the communities here in America. We have voted a Representative in office, to represent us and look at our youth. It is bad when MdcDonald's has gotten to where they don't want to really hire our youth if they can't do a simple math problem. Then there is where they don't want to treat the young people that work for them right because they are too intelligent for them. I have taught school five years ago and I said Lord, what has happen to the real teachers. We have a shortage and a very big problem out here in the school system. Seems like we all are at fault and we can only put the blame ourselves if we don't get this Act out of the system. I am willing to work with our children at any rate that will help them to know the knowledge and the importance of education, I will help....

From 1968 to 1975 I coordinated the Performance Indicators in Education project for the New York State Education Department. That project produced standards for assessing the contribution of schools and school districts to students' achievewment in reading and math. An attempt was made to separate school and non-school factors that influenced achievement so that schools were held only responsible for what they could affect. This is a vital consideration that is missing from the No Child Left Behind model.

Interesting comments!

Before you get upset with the title "consultant" be aware that I have over 30 years in education. That includes 18 years in the classroom, site and district administration experience, and state experience. All the comments seem to make sense based on the perspective that you bring to this question and I am thankful that I am able see your point, but that comes as the result of varied experience in education.

The question posed is "Should the federal accountability law be rewritten?" I would have to say absolutely "yes" to that question. NCLB is based on the old factory model developed by Henry Ford. You start building them in at this end of the assembly line, they progress through at an even pace and come out the end of the assembly line all looking just alike. There are spot inspections along the way to make sure that quality is maintained in the process.

This might work when you are building cars or something of the sort, but when it comes to educating people the assembly line approach is not the model we should be using. Education is a very complex process and it simply can't be put into a box that you can hold in your hand. NCLB is an attemp to take all the complexities of education and put them on paper in a black and white scenario that says either you are or you aren't succeeding with your students based on a single test score.

The over emphasis on meeting AYP seems to be consuming our education common sense. More and more across this country school status is taking priority over quality education for every child and we are taking away valuable educational opportunities so students can score well on reading and math tests. The result of NCLB is that more and more of our students are indeed getting left behind.

The second question about what changes would you make could lead to a new book being written so I will just simply say that we need to take a good look a the 21st Century Skills framework when considering what education and skills are necessary for students to survive and be successful in this global economy. The rapid changes our youth will experience as we progress through this century mean that they must be well equiped to handle change and diversity. They must be innovative thinkers. NCLB as it is sets American education back 100 years and encourages schools to make bad decisions about educating the complete child and equiping them to be successful in the 21st century.

NCLB should be rewritten or revised. It should be rewritten by TEACHERS with many years of experience teaching in the classroom. Many times teachers are left out of the conversation. We are given mandates by the government and consultants and admninistrators. If given a chance to have a dialog with these people, teachers could give a lot of insight into what their needs are. Teachers could also help come up with creative solutions. It is not fair to label some teachers as failures because they were given mandates to follow and then not given the support needed to reach the goals of the mandates.

Some answers I think would be effective in rewriting NCLB are:

1. Include teachers in discussions. This way teachers are able to give input and will have some accountablity because they took part in writing the goals.

2. Measure student growth. Each student should show academic growth. Students with all types of disabilities and advanced students all should be showing academic growth even though they may not all end up in the same place at the end of the year.

3. Give teachers the support they need to reach the goals. Give teachers shared decision making in the schools and in the classrooms. This gives teachers the opportunity to be involved in decisions that directly effect them. When teachers have this kind of control over their classroom, the students generally learn more and teachers are able to use their creativity to help students learn.

4. Create "teacher run" schools. These schools give teachers control over their school while still holding them accountable for student learning. The teachers come up with the curriculum and the solutions in order to help students achieve. (I can take those 50-60, 6th graders who are behind in math and reading and put them in a "teacher run" school and watch the magic happen! I just need someone to allow me to have a "teacher run" school. I could try that as a pilot.)

NCLB is a mess. There can't be accountability on teachers and schools when there are too many other factors that interfere with students' progress. Students come to school hungry, poor, and all have different abilities. We can sanction schools because of students' academic growth. ALL STUDENTS LEARN AND PROGRESS DIFFERENTLY!! NCLB needs to go. Parents are TIRED of the testing testing testing!!!!

NCLB is a mess. There can't be accountability on teachers and schools when there are too many other factors that interfere with students' progress. Students come to school hungry, poor, and all have different abilities. We can NOT sanction schools because of students' academic growth. ALL STUDENTS LEARN AND PROGRESS DIFFERENTLY!! NCLB needs to go. Parents are TIRED of the testing testing testing!!!!



The word "Accountable" should be taken of the table. It is a spin word for all the negative-motivators. The problem is much more complicated than holding only schools and teachers "accountable" for education. I would like to hold all the legislative leaders "Accountable" for poverity in the U.S. giving them until 2017 to eliminate it from the country. Low SES, abusive parents, and the like have a high correlation to academic performance. Simple minded - get the answer or "That's the ticket" solutions are not going to work.

In general, children progress when they are inspired by whoever gets involved in opening doors for them to make new discoveries about what they are capable of learning. They do not progress when they are forced to perform because of an arbitray standard that is set by some person in a think tank who has not the least understanding of children, how they think, and what it is to be a child. When a child goes to school, they become a part of a community, and that is very important to them. They have friends and they belong. Those who say yank them and move them here and there have little concern for the child at all. They are thinking of test scores. The NCLB Act has proved to be a negative to the school environment because it is killing the best of teachers as well as the best of students, demanding results that have nothing to do with education. They just have to do with measurement. Adults appear to love measurement more than they care about learning. It is an adult folly and intelligent students will reject the plan, so we better get on with a new one.
Support all teachers in their work to inspire learning. Give them the tools they need to do the job, and the class size necessary for them to know their students. Get teachers and parents together for the good of the child and stop the artificial evaluation used to condemn public schools. The NCLB Act is a dumbing down of the society by controling what they learn, and how they learn it. It does not support thinking students. It closes more doors than it opens, and we should all be concerned about that.

NCLB has caused dedicated, talented, experienced, inspiring teachers to leave the profession.

Any accountability system must focus on individual student growth, not annual snapshots of test scores by grade level.

The disparities of standards from state to state make a mockery of the goals of NCLB.

Anyone proposing vouchers is blind to the realities of being poor in America.

American education should instill HOPE in our students; instead, today, it is based on FEAR.

The reality of a "college for all" policy for high school graduation is millions of people seeking salable job skills at community colleges or vocational schools, skills they could have obtained in high school.

If the agenda of NCLB is to show that public education in the U.S. is failing, how do we dramatically demonstrate to a majority of citizens that public education is the key to preserving our democratic way of life? How do we achieve a revised plan to improve education based on the brightest and best input from teachers, not politicians?

NCLB will surely be abandoned by the next administration. Is there any truth to the rumor that H. Clinton's education policy will require that any teacher accused of molesting a child must submit to a polygraph test?

NCLB is a purely political attempt to resolve social and educational problems. A "Band Aid" put on by many of the same politicians who have created the social ills that have manifested themselves in the educational problems they attempt to resolve. Bottom line: too many fakers and phonies trying to legislate solutions to educational issues.

Unfortunately, our own profession has many fakers and phonies who are willing to profit from the rules "du jour". To paraphrase Ron Edmonds; we already know more than we need to teach all children, the question is how we feel about the fact we haven't? Each constituent group needs to find ways to make more decisions that educate children and fewer decisions that maintain "turf" control. We need to enforce good pedagogy rather than personal preference and philosophical direction and we all need to make sure personal financial gain is not a drain on student learning.

With respect to the nation wide curriculum that our consultant friend wants, I would be interested how he would implement it? We have already allowed the Constitution to be violated with the NCLB Federalism. The responsibility for educating the children of this nation lies with the states! Those responsibilities not expressly delegated to the Federal Government are reserved for the states. Where is the outrage over the contrivances used by the Feds ( of both parties) to trample states rights. Jefferson, Monroe, Madison and the rest of the early defenders of the rights of states in this country must be writhing in agony.

NCLB has been in place long enough for us to see some independent measures of success absent the very same state testing programs it has created. Have there been substantial improvements on independent measures such as NAEP, SAT or ACT measures? No! Yet we do know that many of the states that claim significant numbers of students passing their proprietary examinations have some of the lowest scores on NAEP. How peculiar! But why be surprised when NCLB has been a natural outgrowth of the very questionable NATION AT RISK conclusions.

There is no doubt that there are major gaps in the quality of public education in this country. BUT much of the system does work and does not need NCLB, national standards or for that matter a business model. Perhaps more introspection on our part would convince the politicians to withdraw their attention on education and find other pursuits for their time and energy. The answer is not liberal nor conservative, Republican or Democratic as the question must be solved by educators of good will or some kids will always get cheated. A child's zip code should not be the controlling factor in their pursuit of a proper education.

Accountability sounds good. It has an authoritarian ring to it, as if someone with a great deal of knowledge and power is able to dicern from test scores wheter or not teachers and schools are giving the public its money's worth.
My personal favorite is the "business model". This generally states that if education were held to business standards, there would be a much better control of the spending and the use of resources. I think the "business" folks need to take a closer look at business. In a business model, the teacher is like a repairman, or woman,
assumed to have the expertise to fix or repair the educational problems. I'll take that role. Call me when your ch ild is failing. I will try to fit you in sometime in the morning. If not then, I'll get to you in the afternoon, unless there is an emergency situation or perhaps I will need to order a textbook or test for you and it will take a week or two. I realize that I take a lot of pay, often more than the parents of the children I teach, but education is a global enterprise and I must compete on that global scale. I feel your pain however, so I will lower my pay two cents an hour every Wednesday, like the gas station in my neighborhood.
My point is that the goal of schools is to educate, business seeks profit. NCLB has done absolutely nothing to improve education and learning. NCLB has been a gold mine for testing agencies and commercial "curriculum" developers.

Although Jim E. has taken his ball and gone home("We're done here"), I'm sure he wouldn't mind my adding my two cents worth none-the-less. For those of us who teach every day, the attacks on public school teachers couched behind pretenses of expertise have become common place and all too easy to identify. For proof, just read the first posting by Jim E. and then his second. Me thinks thou dost protest too much. Their mantra about what we supposedly say about how our kids can't and won't do it, how it won't make a difference, how we have given up, are burned out and are only making time for retirement are nothing more than talking points repeated ad nauseam by public school critics, politicians and the new cottage industry entrepreneurs like Jim E. who, almost to a person, never taught a day in their life. Only someone outside of teaching would wonder why that mattered. They have wondered it for 25 years since A Nation at Risk, and they will wonder about it for the next 25 years or until making money off the demise of unfortunate children or garnering votes for other political purposes ends.

The question was(is) about NCLB and accountability. That is a very broad topic. I was not aware there were procedures to follow as to what I can and cannot write, especially as a response to what someone had written themselves. I was also not aware that a comment by Jim E. on another question was inadmissible. Just two weeks ago he wrote that " In my view there are several distinct problems with the management of our school systems. And management is what we are talking about....... And that is the crux of the problem". Yet only 10 days later in his response to my statement that we are not going to manage our way out of this problem, Jim E. writes that " You bring up that you think I am talking about managing our way out of the problems when I never mentioned that concept at all". Someone help me out here.

Finally, I would be truly interested in the data that Jim E. says he has but does not want to share. If anyone knows of who the " we have made a difference and we have the data to show it" actually is, could you include it in a post here. I can assure you that no one will mind and no breech of "posting etiquette" will be abused.

I had an experience yesterday that illustrates the difficulty in discussing the issue of accountability when addressing the education of children and adults.

I received a letter from a little boy that had these words printed on the envelope: "You change my life." I felt that surge of joy as I ripped open the envelope to read a thank-you from a child I had in my class two years ago. According to him I did an A+ job.

This child repeated first grade with me. In September I understood that he was deeply hurt by being retained. He referred to himself as "stupid." I knew that he was a normal child who was simply immature (November birthday) and challenged as a second language learner. I taught him to read and convinced him (and his mother) that he was a normally bright child. However, at the end of the year, he was still below grade level standard. So how would you hold me "accountable" for this child's progress? Did I do an excellent job as the child and his parents seem to believe? Was I just adequate? Did I fail him because I wasn't able to bring him up to the level of my own privileged granddaughter? I feel that I succeeded with this child, but could a more qualified teacher have done better? Are there "right" answers to these questions?

The best thing we can do for education is to acknowledge its complexity. We're talking about the human mind so there is no easy answer to the question "What changes would you make in the law's accountability system?" I suppose we could start by measuring a child's progress over a year. The little boy I described did not come up to grade level, but he made a lot of progress in my class. Most important, he left my class feeling
capable and that is not easy to measure.

I agree with Tom, "Accountability" needs to be taken out of the dialogue. We do one thing every day, in every school and that one thing happens in the classroom. Everyone else (all site & district administrators, legislators, governors and President) should consider themselves as support for the teachers in those rooms.
If every teacher was asked to show student performance of every student in their classroom 4-6 times per year (not report cards but actual student work), there would be no reason for any such thing as "accountability." Each teacher would be able to show student progress on the grade level outcomes that we all know exist. Those teachers that seem to have difficulty with student progress would be identified quite easily and could receive additional support to improve their abilities. We don't need useless, annual, norm-referenced tests that give us no information about which areas students need assistance. And, finally, can someone please explain to me how we can give annual scores for and hold a school accountable? A school is bricks and morter.... Let the teachers have their profession back! Let them show us what students are doing, student performance and great teaching become quite obvious. Once teachers can share that with each other, all students will improve.

Children are hurt at home to a great extent because of a lack of parenting, then they are sent to school where they are further hurt. Too many parents are too young, without resources, and burdened with poverty, drugs, prison sentences and children are sent to school six years behind. These children come without literacy, background knowledge, and language because many are English language learners. The burden has fallen on teachers, principals, and school districts. I am in my 43rd year as a teacher, 20 years as a reading specialist, and I have never felt so strongly that someday we will ask, "What are we doing to our children and our educators?" We have a non-educator, Margaret Spalling, drafteing our education policies and other politicians, also adding to the mix. "These ivy-league people have little to offer because they don't even have the desire to frequent our schools. They never teach a lesson, look into the eyes of a child, feel their pain or design their lessons. If a person has so little knowledge of what is happening in America's schools, how do they affect a change???? These "data-driven" maniacs want everything looking good as though we all live in their world. We need to stop playing corporate games and take back our job of educating children -- the total child. We need to prepare them for living in a world that values every single person. We need to be in the business of making sure that each child gets to become all that they were created by God to be....we need to be helping them to contribute to the very best of their potential. We need to use all of the resources avaliable to educate them. There are many more ways that children are different today, than therey are similar. We need to esteem children. They are our future. With rigorous curriculums and encouragement, we also provide hope!!! With student-driven/curriculum, these children could even rise higher and our world would be more productive. People would be appreciated, and America could be a model of how ALL people contribute because they are educated to do so. We would then have workers fulfilling every job that is needed. If we could strip our welfare roles, reduce our prison population, we could all sing with Luis Armstrong "What a Wonderful World." To me NCLB has hurt the most, the very ones it was designed to help. Not because educators quit caring, but because the Bush administration moved in with "His good Buddies, not educators and we are all experiencing the chaos. Educators, we need to TAKE BACK OUR PROFESSION!!!" Politicians need to seek our help, but not dictate that which they know so little about. Happy New Year and may the future year bring positive changes for our children and America.

I am going to suggest here that NCLB is not "the problem," nor can it provide "the solution," but rather that it does not impede solution, and may, in fact be supportive.

Among the elephants in our collective living rooms is the extent to which public education serves to maintain and reinforce existing socio-economic stratification. This has been so, to varying degrees, as far back as Dewey--and certainly before. While I scarcely suspect that George (W) Bush intended to rock the social order, that may have been an inadvertant consequence. Certainly he may be accused of setting up conditions favorable to various vultures of capitalism--whether he is capable of a full-fledged conspiracy to destroy public education or not.

But to require accountability measures that demonstrate progress towards equity across socio-economic and ethnic barriers is nothing short of revolutionary--in the most radical of left-wing senses of the word. That fact that so few have been released from inequity can certainly be traced in part to the increase in military spending that has diverted resources, but it can also be found in our dear selves--that we are comfortably rooted in what we have always known to be true--that some deserve and others do not. This is particularly comfortable, and comforting, to those of us who have, or nearly have, the things that we want.

So much of the key decisions from NCLB take place at the state, and particularly the local and even the building level, that any organized group panting for change has an easy entree. Yet so much of the response at each of these levels has taken the form of mind-numbing, drill and kill strategies designed to get those undeserving, ne'er do wells that we can't teach through the test. There is an abundance of rhetoric concerning the "other measures" that should be used to show success in addition to state testing. Where are these measures? Who has developed them and who is using them to supplement the insufficiencies of standardized tests in reading and math?

Where are the teachers responsibly engaged in action research to probe and demonstrate what they "know works" from their years of classroom experience? Where have teachers risen from the classroom to positions of leadership to replace those who don't understand life in a classroom?

And in particular, where are the dire consequences that befall those who do not get enough kids to pass the test. Where are the excellent teachers who are now without jobs as a punishment by No Child Left Behind? Where are the school districts who have lost funding because they didn't improve?

Or of greater significance, where are the students who ten years ago didn't learn to read and cipher up to grade level? Where are the ones from twenty years ago?

In my opinion, increasing accountability without increasing resources, support, and the existing knowledge base (aka research, case study, qualitative and quantitative), equals increasing oppression, not increasing equity. One reason NCLB is so insidious is that it presents as so PC. Another is that it disturbingly reduces the whole child to a number, a number representing only the academic piece. Where in NCLB is the acknowledgment of the need for social-emotional support services (counseling services, special education services) for our youth?

When are they going to start realizing education is not an assembly line? These are real human children who have all kinds of situations in their lives. Some are living in cars. Some are being abused. Some are getting support and love at home and some are not. Some are living with an ill parent. Everything happening at home affects their performance, as well as how many schools they have attended. We, as educators, see no joy in teaching a child to pass a test. This is not a measure of anyone's ability except to pass a test. As a specialist I miss weeks of working with them because of the amount of time they spend preparing for, taking and recovering from being tested. It is a horrible waste of time and money. Yes there should be standards. Absolutely. But the time we are with kids should be spent teaching them what they need at the time and not spent teaching them the test. I see kids in anxiety because the TEST is coming.
I want every legislator to take and pass the tests and maybe then they will realize what a waste it is. If the legislators take the test perhaps we can give them pay according to their scores.
Another big problem is that there is not adequate funding to support all that we are asked to do. I work 50 to 60 hours a week but am paid for much less. There is no grace for any personal needs because the rules are based on case law not student need. It is a system with a great need for overhaul, much less government interference and more time giving kids what they need.

Having been an employer, I would have enjoyed knowing that a prospective employee had met certain criteria before graduating. Accountability is not a bad thing. On the other hand, I now teach special education and am struggling with a number of issues related to NCLB. One issue is how I am expected to teach a first or second grade level math student to pass an 8th grade math assessment? I am a middle school teacher whose students do not qualify for alternative assessments despite being as many as four years below grade level academically. Would it not be more logical to determine a school's AYP/API scores based on actual academic growth rather than the ability to take a multiple guess assessment? Another issue I have is that teaching to the test in order to prepare students for standardized assessments has created a need for standardized style of classroom instruction. Teachers are kept to a more rigid schedule and allowed little to no room for differentiation of instruction. Students who either need more help or who might be higher than the group are left to their own devices. My own daughter's History class covered The Industrial Revolution in two days. I think that this stifles the creativity of both the teacher and the student Teachers are made to feel scripted in their teaching and unable to be trusted to actually do their jobs. Another aspect of this same issue is that this style of classroom severely diminishes the student's ability to apply critical thinking skills. Too often I have watched students plow through a lesson looking for a verbatim answer rather than apply logic and critical thinking to create an answer on their own. I fear that we are creating a generation of people who will expect every answer to be either "A""B" or "C" and be unable to apply logic to a situation and come up with bright and innovative answers. If we teach inside the box will our students be able to think outside of it?

I think the discussion has deviated from the original question, "Should NCLB rewritten so that schools are held accountable for overall STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT, or INDIVIDUAL STUDENT GROWTH?"

In the state of Ohio, our accountability system has added a "value-added" growth measure. This will allow schools to improve ranking based upon student "growth," but growth is not the ONLY measure. We also measure overall student achievement.

The tests in our state are pretty rigorous. It is not really "possible" to just teach test-taking strategies and expect students to pass.
The majority won't.

Most of the questions on the OHIO ACHIEVEMENT TEST are written on the application or analysis level of thinking and based upon our standards for learning. In order to perform well on that test, the students must have participated in quality classroom activities, discussions, and daily practice, targeted to reach the same levels of understanding that they are expected to display on the OAT. That doesn't happen with traditional "test-prep."

While I do agree that ONE TEST should NOT be a school's sole scoreboard for the year, I do believe that students are learning more now than they did when I entered the profession nearly two decades ago, and they are certainly learning more than they did when I was a public school student (I won't say how many decades ago.)

Because we always want to increase, not decrease, our level of human expectation, there must always be change. I do strongly agree that some components of NCLB need to be rewritten (especially the mandates that are unfunded). However, in keeping with the intent of the original question, my response is that NCLB should be rewritten so that school accountability should be measured BOTH on STUDENT GROWTH AND on overall STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT.

In the state of Ohio, this is generally referred to as "The Power of Two"-Achievement AND Growth.

As the parent of a special ed child, my concern lies with those students who are relentlessly tested over and over again to pass state tests. Yes, they should be held accountable for standards, but the way they are measured should be done differently.

Many thanks to Jody for noticing the truth that "test prep" activities will not result in the ability to pass well-designed standardized tests--such as those in Ohio. This does not mean, however, that publishers have stopped selling test prep materials. As a parent--of a student with special needs (who has always been in a room down the hall because he was EXPECTED to perform years behind the "regular" kids)--I am endlessly frustrated when my district buys in to the test prep notion and provides only workbook oriented instruction in how to identify the key words that will help to identify the correct choice on a multiple choice test. I can sign him up for, and make him go to, the extra sessions prior to testing (and I am judged to be a bad parent if I do not). But what he really needs is some differentiated instruction based on rich understandings of the CONTENT contained in the test. I am worn out from trying to have these conversations with the educators in the district. Everyone wants to point to NCLB as the cause. I am sorry--that is just not so. There is nothing in No Child that prohibits good teaching. Good teaching results in learning, and this is measureable. Frankly, I would be happy to be assured of a year's growth in a year's time. But what I get is half to three fourths growth in some skills and no exposure to meaningful content in other areas. Exposure to science and social studies in his elementary years was purely accidental (he was tested--but it didn't "count" and the district was not accountable). Now that he is years behind, somehow it is judged to be unreasonable to notice, or care, or make any kind of plan for remediation. I feel for hutchen and his dilemma, but NCLB didn't cause this. Those conditions existed (probably in worse form) before NCLB came around. We just couldn't prove it. Now we have the data that shows that progress for kids with disabilities is all over the map (no--they are not all years behind, in some schools they are succeeding).

BTW, hutchen, whatever the school told you, your daughter did not "cover" the industrial revolution in 2 days. It can't be done.

As a special education teacher, I am horrified at what this has done for my students. Instead of focusing on what a child really needs, we are now concerned with how to help them perform on the state test. Time has been taken from teaching students how to read and this is a disgrace. I have been doing this for 15 years and am considering leaving the profession because the ethics are so screwed up. The paper may say "Individualized Education Plan" but there is nothing individual about it. Schools and states are no only concerned with scores of proficiency. With regards to 100% proficiency: how is that even possible? Do these people bot understand statistics and a bell curve. Each student getting what they need to make adequate progress and measuring against themselves is what should occur. As a parent, I don't care what my child scored on the test, I want to know if he understands the information. The two are not always synonymous.

I think that differentiated instruction is what so many of the above respondents have been discussing using different words. Regardless of academic achievement levels or special needs, no two students are alike. If I were to re-write NCLB. I would assess individual students based on their actual academic growth. I have used WISC, WIAT, Woodcock Johnson, and other forms of assessment to assist me in making statements about student growth but I have used these tools in conjunction with portfolios and work samples to substantiate my statements. I fear that we place too much value on test scores that are mere snapshots and not enough value on the ability to apply what students have learned to every day life. Assessments that include critical thinking questions are effective in assisting us in gathering information about student knowledge but these are not the tests I have observed my students taking in almost ten years teaching and in two states. I applaud the OAT assessments for requiring that students use critical thinking and wished that all states insisted on the same standard of assessment.
Data gathering is important in assessing growth, good teaching is measurable, but what are the tools we are using and how much value are we assigning them? The only blame I assign NCLB is the frustration it has caused for people I have observed. The last school I taught at was a Title 1 school, 72% ELL, 49% free and reduced lunch. We were PI 4 years in a row do soley to our special ed and ELL scores. We were being told that, as a PI school, we needed to increase our Reading and Math hours for our below basic students by pulling them from any Music or Art programs. My co worker, who taught Art, was told that she could teach 2 Art and 4 Social Studies classes because Art was not a core course. This was directly due to the requirements placed on education by NCLB. My students, who were special ed students, would never have made the scores needed to be considered "proficient" no matter how bright or creative I was as an educator. This makes me sad and frustrated. Teaching is what I choose to do for a living.

There are lots and lots of misconceptions floating around about what various tests measure, and what NCLB requires. A school in PI for 4 years IS required to formulate a plan for responding to the unmet needs of those students whose performance is inadequate. NCLB DOES NOT say that reading should take the place of art. The content of the plan really does devolve to the building/district level--with varying levels of assistance from the state depending on need/state plan, etc. The planning (this IS specified in NCLB) is to be undertaken by teachers and parents. One possible reform suggested by NCLB is an extended school day/school year. Title I $ can also (and may be required to) provide additional support or tutoring for those students who are not proficient.

I am not a testing wonk--but it is hard to understand how WISC, WIAT, Woodcock-Johnson can demonstrate academic growth. On the other hand, use of a Value-Added dimension to accountability still requires that students take the academic achievement tests--which are then used to measure growth from one year's test to the next.

And differentiated INSTRUCTION is not the same as differentiated CONTENT. My child, who has a disability, requires appropriate approaches to the delivery of content in order to learn. What he has received for most of his educational career is watered down content with lowered expectations in a classroom with fewer students.

Something to consider is that students identified with emotional disturbance do not demonstrate learning in the same way others do. Under conditions of emotionality (learning is a condition of emotionality), they may not learn or demonstrate what they know as their (supposedly) typically developing peers do. This population is underrepresented (by from 10-20% depending on whose research you're reading). We can differentiate instruction, progress monitor, analyze data, collaborate with students, staff, support personnel, and families, teach well, highly expect, and still not get consistently accurate assessment results. People are not machines, and our current knowledge base is limited. In my opinion, professional and personal, holding all students to the same content area expectations is equivalent to a one-size-fits all model, and sets education back to the pre-special education days. I see this as oppressive and a violation of civil rights. Further, is it realistic that in a classroom of 30+ students instruction is highly individualized? It seems we are trying to sprinkle magic dust on general education and turn it into special education (sans funding, professional development, time, resources, research, and respect). Sheer numbers, if not that seemingly rare commodity, common sense, would seem to preclude this.

I've said it before and I will say it again.I believe k-12's ACADEMIC EDUCATION is bogged down by the sports program and coach/teachers.
I am tired of hearing the excuse that sports keep these sports kids from dropping out and they get the well roundedness from being in sports.Well guess what? If sports is what keeps those chosen few students from dropping out than why wouldn't we as Americans make sure that every child gets to PLAY??If this is the answer to making a well rounded child (which is a bunch of baloney) than why wouldn't we as Americans let every child PLAY?? Well roundedness comes from home.

You talk about accountability. Every students parents tax monies are SUPPOSED TO BE going to the school for ACADEMIC EDUCATION for their children.In other words, we are paying for a sports program that dictates to us whether our children are worthy of PLAYING.That is ridiculous and ludicris knowing the US is failing at ACADEMICS. I say put the sports into the communities.Just because a kid can't, won't or don't make an A or a B on a report card does not excuse the favortism that goes on with school sports. Coddled grades.Don't even try to deny it.Coach teachers are a hinderence in the ACADEMIC classrooms. They are very intimidating to non sports children.Not to mention the fact that they usually do not have extra time for a students studies because they have to get to the field.
Why on earth would we want seperation of children in k-12??In the 3rd grade,I had to threaten the coach that if he did not take my kid off of the field so that the other crying little boys on the bench could play too, then I would not bring him back. I continued to do so all of his years of playing and being in school sports.I have a very humble and friendly child.This child is raw talent and a starter to every sport he plays. As a freshman he carried the Varsity to state.He was the replacement to the injured,ineligables, absent etc.. HE got them to state and they did win.He has medals in track for state,he has tropheys and awards.I am very proud of my child, but most of all, he is proud of himself.
The colleges will scout our children in the communities just as well as they do from the schools. THey are the ones doing the scouting and handing out scholarships, not the high schools.
Understand me when I say LET THEM ALL PLAY!!
We need to take this weight and shift it back to the classrooms. Put the sports in the communities and put the MONIES back into the ACADEMIC EDUCATION. I'm sure the teachers would appreciate getting their share of all that sports monies.
You might think of putting a survival class that every child could utilize instead of a dictated program over our childrens PLAYTIME.
Thanks for listening

Margo, I agree with you about the need to differentiate between content and instruction whole heartedly. As a special education teacher I have struggled to convince some of our mainstream teachers that, just because a student is designated special education does not mean that curriculum needs to be watered down. Processing deficits do not impede a students ability to learn, but impacts how a student processes information. This may mean that a teacher will need to type notes rather than expect my student to copy from the board, other times it means that they (the student)needs to tape a lesson in order to hear it again later. Learning disabilities never mean that a students cannot learn, merely that we need to find a different way for them to learn. On the other end of the same spectrum are students like my grand-daughter who had such high test scores that her teacher wanted her placed in an accelerated program. When we went to observe we found it was just more work, not a more in-depth look at the subjects being taught. I understand that this is one program out of thousands and that many gifted and talented programs are not like this one, but it illustrates my point. It is as much presentation as it is curriculum itself. We must differentiate both content and curriculum in order to serve each student as they need.
The whole accountability issue bothers me on behalf of these students; the ones who think outside the box.

If educators, policymakers, etc. agree that the NCLB law needs to be rewritten then why is it taking so long to rewrite it? Everyday children are being affected by this law - negatively!
As a mentor I have observed inexperienced teachers struggling to keep order in the classroom, never mind actually teach. They do not get the guidance they need on a daily basis to become effective teachers b/c their colleagues are either too busy w/DOE paperwork or they do not care enough. Furthermore, the school admin. is so bent on tests and how the evaluations of these tests reflect on the school it fails to engage the new teacher in daily mgmt. techniques.
The new crop is disheartened and several are unwilling to stay in teaching b/c they are in the first line of accountability.
Change the law and let teachers teach, not to a test but to young people who have a need and a right to learn and to ask questions, even if they are not in "the standards".

The law is based not on a human making progress but on a Henry Ford model of the production line. Increments of progress need to be rewarded and only blatant disregard for progress sanctioned. I work in a school district that is Language Arts crazy, every penny is put into language arts. Thus,math and science are mere hangers on. This is a blatant disregard of the law that students progress in all areas and districts like this should be sanctioned. If a district is weak in an area it needs to put the full focus of it's efforts to that area and not some university fantasy that every kid will go to a university. I mean come on Phd's picking strawberries get a life :)

As a new teacher, serving in an inner city school, I agree with most everyone on this blog in terms of measuring a student's individual success. This is particularly relevant to secondary special ed students where the gap in content knowledge is so huge, you are just setting the kid up for failure if you make a student who is low cognitively to take a high school exam with accomodations that are really not that helpful. As far as accountability is concerned, I think we need to begin fixing the problem where the problem originated and that is with the parents. Who is holding them accountable? The parents of my students could care less about what is going on with their kid. Too busy smoking crack and "doing time". I have found in my very short career as a teacher, you will not get far with a child who has not been socialized. The behavior problems along with any other organic disorder that may be present, and untreated, will radically inhibit any kind of academic progress, and I don't care if the teacher is highly qualified or not. My first experience as a teacher does not even mildly reflect what I learned for this master's degree. I find it more similar to my MBA and the 25 years I spent in corporate america:( The real eye opener was in the observations I did of suburban as well as urban. BIG DIFFERENCE, like comparing apples to bananas.

I believe the critical accountability component missing in education is parental accountability. Anyone who has ever been a teacher knows that children make better grades when their parents are involved in their education. There has been no legislation making parents accountable for their child's success or failure. Parental involvement outweighs socieoeconimic status.

Joe--there are two key components regarding parents in the NCLB legislation. One is the "parent as consumer" provision regarding parent choice in removing a student from a poorly performing school. The second is the parent as citizen provision for the REQUIRED parent involvement in the formulation of School Improvement Plans.

As a parent, I can tell you that I have encountered significant barriers to both. Removal of a student to a better performing school is only an option if there is a better performing school available (as in, not only exists, but has available space). In my district, the schools that perform well have persistently long waiting lists. With regard to the second, there is, in my district, a very high level of denial/ignorance of any such requirement. While the Board has duly enacted policy to required parental involvement mechanisms to meet the letter and spirit of the law (two-way home-school communication, involvement on the School Improvement Team), in the absence of very clear indicators and reporting--the administration is able to get by with very little. One result is that Improvement Plans are really cursory documents assembled by a "committee" of teachers (who only meet together to parcel out the work), that are filed annually and never reviewed for either implementation or outcomes. If the schools were serious about Parent Involvement, they would be preparing an annual report to parents (as required) and presenting it at a time that parents are available (as required) and parents would have a venue to ask some of the hard questions that come with access to school-wide data.

I can tell you that I generally welcome at my child's school to discuss his progress. I am welcome to "join the PTA" or the boosters or anything else that raised money for the school, or volunteer for menial tasks. When I start to ask questions about the school report card, school policy, curriculum, practices, improvement, or any of the things within the school building that impact my child's progress, time is up, the person I am talking to cannot address the topic, or I am directed back to talking only about my child and his deficiencies.

Just read the above posts and would like to chime in. I've been teaching in a mixed middle class/working class school for over 20 years and am now completing a Masters in Language & Literacy. I have come to the conclusion over and again that NCLB and its tentacle of accountablity is a political maneuver to promote privatization. As you all probably know, the roots of the law go back to the Reagan years, as well as the "Nation at Risk" Report and the later Reading Panel report, both of which contain highly selective use of data & research. Through my own extensive reading, I have come to the conclusion that NCLB is part of the greater "movement conservatism" that has been gestating since Reagan and has come full flower under GW Bush. The ideology of which is to shrink government, eliminate protective regulatory functions, privatize and/or eliminate social safety nets and services (welfare, unemployment insurance, social security, public education, etc.), uphold only a completely free market economic model and accept inequality as the natural outcome of that model.

It is clear to me that NCLB is successfully tainting the incessantly battered image of public education such that citizens will become more amenable to vouchers and privatization. If all schools are failing, why should the government continue to fund anything more? I agree with several previous posts that social and economic inequality go hand in hand with academic achievement. Shouldn't federal, state & local elected officials be held accountable for the economic stability of their constituents? If accepted inequality is part of a totally free market economy, can brilliant, high-quality teachers alone make up the difference? What will accountability look like when the best and brightest teachers cannot meet 100% proficiency for all?

And if the current and veteran teaching force is as horrible as Ed Week and other media drone on about, then why is the United States the number one (the only) super power in the world? If teacher quality and grade-school standardized test scores predict future economic competitiveness (is that the same as stability?), why is the US one of the richest nations on the planet?
We are the richest nation, yet we are screwing our poorest, most vulnerable citizens, both economically and educationally.

Testing of the students is the RED ALERT of what is wrong with the school systems. The "Present Levels of Performance" is an assessment that tells all exactly what grade level and month the child is on in the Core Subjects. It is within this report you will see, as an example, if the child is in 8th grade and reading on a 4th grade level with a 3rd grade level of comprehension, then there is a problem - but not the child but the Elementary School Teaching Methods.

It is here that you can see that in 3rd and 4th grade this child missed something in the "teaching" of the child the material.

Being in the Advocacy Business for 26 years I have found through my own research and 100's plus of "Present Levels of Performance" assessments that the problem in not the child but the teaching method in the elementary grades. We have to focus first on that instead of on a Disability, disorder or syndrome the child may have or not have.

Each and everytime I have this assessment done for the core subjects the report is so detailed that it tells you exactly what the child missed in that particular core subject.

Report cards should be reevamped and the use of "Present Levels of Performance" should be the report card. This accountability and Monitoring throught the "Present Levels of Performance" of the Teachers themselves, in the elementary schools, will show where the teachers are needing to change their teaching style and help the child in need to "get it" and succeed.

Even though the child is in 8th grade and the reading and comprehension is 3rd and 4th grade you have, right there in your hands, where to start woking with the child to get back on grade level. It's not ADHD most of the time but the teachers in the elementary schools that are not getting the teaching method for the children to suceed in any particular area.

All Teachers should be tested after every single Professional Development Class and pass with 80%. This ia another monitoring and accountability principle that everyone is missing.

Rose Moore, CEO
ADHD Child Advocate Services
Talk Show Host for The Rose Moore Show - Disabilities Radio

The NCLB law is about Adequate Yearly progress. It measures this by testing students one year, testing different students in the same grade the next year and seeing if the percentage of the second group of students passing the test has risen. The law does not even test the same students to see the percentage of students passing. The students take the test, not the schools and not the teachers. Students in urban schools are more likely to come to school unprepared for school. Students in suburban schools are more likely to come to school prepared. When the percentage of students passing does not meet AYP, the the school is considered In School Improvement. But the urban teachers have worked harder and brought students farther and yet are penalized. It is easier to teach in a district where students come prepared to learn. Yet they are told the schools and teachers in excellent. But again it is the students who take the test. If a student cannot pass the test, why is the school always to blame. Try teaching a student that is absent 2 days a week, goes home to an empty house with no books only a TV, a child whose only meal is at school, and a child who has not learned how to follow rules and refuses to follow classroom rules. This is the same child that when the parent is contacted, the parent blames the school is the child misbehaves and couldn't be bothered to visit the school, read with the child or even be bothered to provide a pencil for the child to take to school. Oh yes, I forgot but in public schools the schools have to provide all the materials. Parents shouldn't be expected to pay for school supplies. I should know since I use to spend about $2000 a year on my class. But I would visit the homes and they had big screen tv's, which I did not.
NCLB makes the school systems allow students to transfer to a school that is not In School Improvement. This only proves my point. As students transfer from "inadequate schools' to 'excellent' schools, the 'excellent' schools all of sudden become schools that are In SChool Improvement. Did the school or the teachers change? No, the students take the test, cannot pass the test and we are right back to blaming the school. By the way, the former school that was In School Improvement is not any longer because the students who couldn't pass the test have left.
I am glad I am not teaching any more because to ask my special education students to take a grade level level test when their abilites are 2-4 grade levels behind is cruel. They become extremely frustrated and whatever progress I had made getting them to try harder and believe in themselves is destroyed by a test that they feel tells them they are 'stupid'.
One more point - If the goal by this president is to have all students be at grade level and go on to college, then when my plumbing and air conditioning quit working, I will call him to come and fix them.

Get rid of NCLB. It is badly written and poorly funded except for the thousands of companies becoming rich off the tutoring programs my tax monies are paying for and only offering to students if they do not change schools.

Although NCLB is in need of improvements, overall, this piece of legislation has improved the way schools consider the academic growth of each child -- specifically I have seen schools begin to look at student performance, anaylze causes to learning challenges, and make adjustments -- a smart approach for school improvement. 100% proficiency goals should be the target for all educators, representing the belief that all children are capable of success. This belief is what I hope all edcuators have deep inside, but sadly worry does not exist for as many educators as would be ideal. I also agree that schools should look (and celebrate) the growth that has occurred in students' performance each year. In terms of legislation, perhaps the government should stagger the years that 100% proficiency is "due", thus taking into consideration the varying starting points and unique challenges different schools and districts face. In the current model, the close we get to 2014, the higher the rate of growth expected. Many would agree that it is much easier to grow 5% than it is to grow 15%. Recognizing the different level of expertise and resources needed to make these jumps would be a welcomed aid to many schools striving to achieve their targets.

I hear that we all point our fingers at teachers, students, principals, and so on, BUT
How about PARENTS? It's their children, their responsibility to make sure that children do what the teachers require them to do to be able to succeed -> teachers do not want DFS to begin to be involved in child's upbringing while we are evaluating students, teachers, and principals.... Parents have to be accountable for something too!
Why punish students who want to learn while teachers are spending time with students who do not want to learn and see their parents living on welfare, and find that "comfortable" earning!

Accountability MUST start here in United States. Stop making this is an unseen position. Some school districts are doing extremely well and then some school districts are not justify for one reason or another. As educatiors we must pursue what is needed. Starting with Head Start thru College. It is said, we are only good has our instructors ", and that means parents in that equations. I believe that we must make use that we
place ALL the eggs in the basket to make this work. Stop letting Social Behavior warrant our behavior toward enhancing our students toward getting a stern,positive, and strengthing education. Let us show that it is in blood that
OUR CHILDREN receive a proper education.

At my school, we have discussed the absolutely ridiculous notion that we, as teachers, have the ability to make students choose academic achievement over the lifestyles that their own parents have established for them. When parents don't support or believe that a good education is more beneficial to their children than a life of government aide and welfare--where we have sixty-plus girls in grades 8-12 with mutiple children--it can be difficult indeed to keep the faith. However, teachers like me and a handfull of others are trying. We believe that maybe, just maybe, if we keep preaching edcaution, some of our students will get the message. No one ever told us that educating children to make good choices was going to be easy.

The comments above have been extremely interesting. I teach on the Navajo Indian reservation. NCLB has completely ignored the needs of these children and has done everything to destroy a culture which needs desperately to be preserved. Our public school has never made AYP despite extending the school year, free breakfast for all, Saturday school for teachers, after-school academic programs for students and in-services from Harcourt, (who wrote the state test), Houghton Mifflin, Jim Shipley, and Linda Mood Bell, among others. These companies are making BIG BUCKS based on our supposed failures.

But our parent-teacher conferences were attended by teachers only. So we went into the homes, sort of. We woke parents up or no parents were home or they were drunk or doors were slammed in our faces. I'm not judging these life styles. It's a fact of their lives. Our school is 90% free-and-reduced and 90% ELL. The first language is Dine. How can NCLB help us?

It can't. No federal program can. We teachers need to teach within their culture. These students trust those of us who honor their lives and who will be there every day for them. They're willing to learn the 3R's when we are willing to learn to shear sheep, cook outside, ride a horse, attend pow wows, etc.

We will never make AYP, and frankly, I don't give a damn. As a twenty-plus year veteran of teaching, I think I know what makes a student tick than GWB and his political buddies ever could.

GWB went to all the correct schools and he's still an idiot. Doesn't that say something to all you NCLB supporters?

I would institute a hybrid system. This system would have the students create the questions. The questions would be written by the students would be one question from each section of the current chapter. Then, I would have them read and answered in class. Moreover, I would then the questions on the written test. This approach promotes critical thinking, improves writing skills, improves readings skills, improves communication skills, and improves memory skills. Lastly, I would have the students take a performing arts class or public speaking class starting in the 8th grade.

I think this balance approach should improve most if not all of the state mandated test scores required by NCLB.

I so agree with Barb, that there is no use in repeating it all. I am in a Low Socio-Economic Hispanic middle school, fighting the same problems Barb described so well. I am a special education teacher of 23 years. I look forward to retiring. I am so tired of being blamed, not having the grade level materials that IEPs say the kids are supposed to have, parents who are either in jail, on drugs or working 3 jobs with no time to supervise their kids or help them with school work, gangs that beat and threaten young children into joining the gang or be raped, have their mother hurt, car damaged or house burned down, girls getting pregnant as a rite of passage to be in a gang, so they won't be raped anyway...kids that show up once or twice a week to avoid having to be re-registered, ...
This is NOT the fault of teachers or schools.
Get out of your starry fantasy. Teachers bust their butts to do everything they can to help turn these kids around. Even in middle school, we have not given up on them, while many others have.
Here is another wierd little fact: because few teachers will drive the long way out here to teach in "one of THOSE" schools, anyone can walk in off the street with any college degree and start teaching Specisl Ed.! This is an insult to those teachers that have gone to college for years and years, keeping up on all the newest findings and research, spending our own money to improve ourselves, and in walks some guy with no education background whatsoever. Not only that, they are also found to be "highly qualified" in core subjects based on the most remote college classes while teachers that have taught self-contained classrooms specializing in a multitude of disabilities are found to be NOT highly qualified in ANYTHING simple because they chose to work with the kids that needed the most help!

I am surprised anyone stays in education anymore.
As much as I love the kids and teaching, it is the administration and the ignorant public that will see me very happy to leave it all behind in 5 years to retire. I am simply tired of getting beat up.

I thought of some more pet peeves.
The kids in our school made tremendous progress on their scores this past year. The Special Ed. department scores went up 115%.
While that is all well and nice, we are told it just isn't good enough. We are still on probation, because our scores did not match the 61% or more goal for reading and math. We are still being threatened with our jobs and having the school be closed. Not one administrator from downtown congratulated us on our school's progress. Not one.
To echo other's comments, the schools in the highly funded neighborhoods only struggle to progress two or three points of progress. The disparity between our accomplishments and theirs is seen as failure, plain and simple. Just ignore the fact that with tremendous effort, we made a huge difference at our school.
The NCLB expectation that every special education student will miraculously reach on grade level proficiency by 2013, is simply stupid. The kids are in special education because it has already been proven that they CANNOT keep up due to whatever disability they have. If a child reads at second grade level because his brain was fried by crack in his mother's womb, no amount of education can undo the damage done prenatally. Humans come in a wide spectrum of abilities and to pretend otherwise is a set-up for failure (NCLB). Do you really think that college is the right course for someone who will never be able to read a set of directions on a bottle of poisonous material and comprehend it? The kid that just can't sit still is suddenly going to be able to sit in 3 hour long lectures? The kid that is dealing drugs so that the older dealer won't go to jail...that kid is going to suddenly decide to give up the quick money and go to college? After missing 3 out of every 5 days of school for years as his school records show? These are not isolated cases in the school I teach in. The finger pointing is in the wrong directions. The answer will never be an easy one. The problems are so multi-fauceted and ingrained. People who have not spent years in a classroom trying to make a difference and having to settle for the 3 or 4 that one might actually reach while we watch the others sink...are not the experts to pass judgement on well-educated, hard-working and caring people that are underpaid and underappreciated. People that blame without inside experience are the same ones that would be screaming unfair should I suddenly decide that I know how their profession is run, how it is educated, how its administration works, etc. It is an insult to suppose that you know more about my profession than I do.
Go sit in a classroom for 2 weeks solid. THEN you can try to figure out how to fix everything. Has it not occured to you that teachers ARE proud of what they do and want to do the best they can? We chose this profession because we want to do this job. We care about the kids. We struggle and search constantly for ways to do everything better. If we didn't care, we would be working somewhere else, making more money, having less headaches and heartaches and get more respect for earning someone else a profit.

Testing. Another mess. Someone calculated the time lost from instruction to do these tests. It came to 6 weeks. That is a whole grading period in some schools.
Another angle: the tests are given at times that the test makers decide on. Schools are not given any input about it. We are dictated to.
One results is that our students are so burnt out by the third test week, that they just mark whatever to get it over with.
Another result is that the end of the year scores to determine passing to the high school, is given after the 3rd quarter of the school year. All grades after that are not counted. So why teach the 3rd quarter? Kids find out and just don't give a damn because they know the only score that counted was in March. And the tests included material that schools are scheduled to teach in April and May. Now you tell me that isn't a broken system.
The tests are totally white middle-class culture biased. Haven't we learned anything since we kidnapped Native American Children and put them into concentration camp schools to force them to be just like us?
Tests should reflect the region one grows up in. That is where the majority of the kids will work and live after high school. They need to be educated and evaluated for success in that area where they will most likely be for the rest of their lives. College is where students learn about real life in the big world.
Colleges have become vocational training schools.
There is so much demand for classes to ready one for a job, that there is no more requirement for being a well rounded person. No more language requirements. No more art requirements. Just pointedly focused job readiness. It wasn't until my third degree that I finally had the luxery of studing Liberal Arts material.
Another note:
I have noticed that I and others have made spelling errors and other mistakes while writing in this forum. Anger and frustration does that to a person. Also, there is no spell check here! ha ha

Well, as you can see, I have nothing else to do today but respond to this discussion. I am really venting about things that have been such brick walls for educators for so very long.
It has been my experience that the fewer students per teacher, the better the progress of all the students. Duh.
Instead, as an inclusion teacher, every one of the "D" level students with a learning disability, moved as a living grade level mass from class to class, with total numbers being well over 30 students per class. This being, 20 students for the regular ed teacher plus how ever many grade level kids with learning disabilities added to that one class. The justification is: well there are 2 teachers! Never mind the crowding, the noise level, the stigma for the special ed kids that were forced on a schedule together all year. Never mind that the reg. ed teacher had to stay on her pre-ordained pacing guide for teaching the curriculum which meant no extra time for the kids with IEPs that demanded it. If we did take the time, we had to leave the classroom to do it and the kids missed more instruction and got further behind. There was no way to provide the extra time without taking it away from the breakneck pace of the regular classroom. Then the kids had gaps which would affect their grades on the cummulative test. If every teacher had 10 students in regular education, and special education students were paired with regular ed students in classrooms of 6 -8 kids, what a success story we would all see.
Instead, all we get is budget cuts every year despite soaring prices and greater needs. How can we provide students with what they need if every year we are given even less money!?
What about the kids who do not speak English well?
Do we just sit back and let them struggle without support? Could you learn Japanese at the same time you were trying to learn Physics in the same class? Have you non-hispanics ever tried to listen to the News in Spanish? Did you learn the language as well as understand the content? Bet not. Yet that is what we are doing to our students.
In my school, we have a huge population of Spanish speaking parents and extended family. As the kids learn English they lose the ability to communicate with their parents and vice versa. How can the parents teach their childen values if the kids lose their first language?

At our school for next year, we will be teaching Social Studies and Science during one class session. This is because the scores for these two topics don't count in the overall school assessment process of NCLB. We are doing this so the kids will be able to attend their electives, which is often where they shine. If we cut those out, many would not show up to school with any regularity. Since our students did not pass the math and reading tests, they are required to take a "reg. ed." Math and Literature course plus a math and reading remedial course. So, kids that cannot multiply and divide will sit in algebra classes and kids that cannot decode words at a second grade level or comprehend the meaning of a paragraph will be siting in classes discussing themes and motifs. The Lang. Arts teachers are NOT allowed to use novels to teach with. Just think, all those wonderful classical works of literature are now not good enough to teach with. Amazing. At lease in Drama they learn MacBeth. No more Mocking Bird,no more Jack London.
It used to be that learning and knowing other languages was something to be proud of. Now we go to college and universities without that distraction and label anything that isn't English as not worthy.
Well, I have used enough space. I am done.

Look education is one of the founding princibles of western civilzation as we know it .In america's modern day sosiety we are ignoring what matters the most . Educating the leaders of tomorrow should be our nations first priority . For some odd reason the majority of our public officails have tendancies of falling back on education budget's to cash out other infastructures . (robbing peter to pay paul)Tell me , what is the point of relishing the whole world with democracy and all of lady liberties belief's. If we as american's are'nt smart enough to practice what we preach . It is issues like these that have people all around the world cracking jokes about our arrigants . Knowledge is everything .

Yes, NCLB needs to be rewritten. Only this time, using specific words and a national standard, not the vague terms that are best described as "weasel words" and cries for "standards, any standards, just meet them!"

Failing that, it needs to be funded as promised.

NCLB's passing is another example of the American public's desire to treat the symptoms rather than the disease itself. The disease being students faring poorly in academia.

As others have pointed out, the business model is something everyone understands on the surface level, so that is the option taken to bandage this bleeding wound.

Sadly, treating the disease itself requires such sweeping cultural changes that those who CAN enact these changes fear to do so because the results will be a long time coming; far longer than their terms in government. So why bother? Coupled to the fact that the necessary changes run against such ingrained American habits as state rights; organized athletics at all school levels (including college); no license or age limit required to be a parent; the faulty belief that not only can everyone do college-level work, everyone wants to; and the insidiously growing belief that the government is there to do things FOR you, rather than to help you do something for yourself.

Will I let these issues keep me from doing my best to teach my own children at home or the children entrusted to me in my classroom? No. Reaching some children is better than none at all.

Let's just see what the new administration brings. Maybe, we'll be surprised.

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Recent Comments

  • John/New Teacher - Old Observer: Yes, NCLB needs to be rewritten. Only this time, using read more
  • knowledge is power: Look education is one of the founding princibles of read more
  • Peg Special Education Teacher: At our school for next year, we will be teaching read more
  • Peg Special Education Teacher: Well, as you can see, I have nothing else to read more
  • Peg Special Education Teacher: Testing. Another mess. Someone calculated the time lost from instruction read more




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