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Defending NCLB

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In a recent article on Teacher, science educator Anthony Cody argued that, because of its emphasis on basic-skills testing, NCLB is lowering the value of "deeper learning" in schools. TMAO, in his blog, responds that Cody presents a false either-or dichotomy, but that, in any case, basic-skills must come first:

An enriched curriculum filled with electives, school 2.0 technologies, and 21st century skills ought to be set-up as pay-off for demonstrating mastery of all those basic skills so many folks work so long and hard to instill. We should establish basic skills as the necessary pre-requisites for the further avenues of study we all acknowledge as so very critical—you know, yearbook, dioramas, and the french horn. The choice, then, is one faced by the individual, and determined by the individual's progress, and results in a tiered system of education, where students receive instruction geared toward their academic profile. This is also known as teaching kids what they need, and it's something more of us should do.

There's much more.

2 Comments

I don't know that TMAO is defending NCLB so much as questioning those who blast it.

I do think it pays to remain cognizant of the fact that there are still in this country children who are receiving a much more balanced education (ie getting the arts, social studies and "higher order thinking skills" as well as learning to read, write, spell and cipher) and don't have exploding heads or other dire consequences. (some even speak more than one language!)

It seems as though we really have to get beyond the either/or stuff that TMAO is so right to point out, and act on a sincere belief that it is within our abilities to bring all kids up to some defined level while still challenging those who excel, or have skills and abilities in some of the non-basic areas.

I think that our emphasis should be on providing a balanced, quality education that starts where the student begins, and remains focused on where the student IS at all times, while bringing the student into the proximity of his or her next level of thinking and skill acquisition in our content area of teaching. To do this we should, and must, as educators, use every skill and tool that we have at our disposal - and today we have technology, pedagogy, research, and educational qualifications to help us as highly qualified educators to provide the best education that children have ever had available to them in history. We CAN provide so very much to our students if we extend ourselves as educators. How very lucky we are to have this opportunity today!

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  • Serena Herter: I think that our emphasis should be on providing a read more
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