One of my best friends is a teacher in an Abbott district , which is a school district that scored so far below the average in standardized testing , that they are to strictly adhere to the NCLB Act. She recently achieved the Teacher of the Year award..her essay topic...Why the No Child Left Behind Act Hurts Schools, and How Bush has failed the children of America.
It took a lot of guts for her to write this, as most of those in the District and in her school are pro Bush. But it was phenomenol. She went into detail about how because of this act, she is forced to "teach to the test." There is no room for creativity in the teachers, they are teaching kids how to perform well in standardized tests only. She said her school's main problem with low test scores is the language barrier, and she feels stifled as a teacher because she cannot teach to the individual student. Thus, the child with special needs, or that needs a different approach to learn a subject, is unable to get that extra help he or she needs and falls through the cracks.
The children in the school she teaches in are often bilingual. They come to school not speaking English, and many who do speak it speak whatever their family's language is at home..often times the parents speak no English.
The kids come into the school and have difficulty with the standardized testing, but the school does not have the additional funding for there to be an English as a second language class, nor will they allow the teachers to work with these kids on their own.
It is a sad situation. Kids fall behind, and the children who are high achievers suffer because the teachers cannot broaden their cirriculum to make the classes interesting for these kids, nor can they take the time to do any one-on-one teaching.
My city just got Abbott District status last week. It joins my gf's town, along with one other city in our county on that list. Every teacher I talk to is sad and frightened for the kids that need the extra help, as well as their ability to give it.
I am fortunate enough to be able to send my kids to the Catholic school in our town, and many of the parents who are able are sending their kids here next year as well. It is so sad that everyone else cannot have that advantage, and that all of the funding the public school gets, the abilities and advantages the taxdollars pay for, will sit unused while the teachers prepare kids for yet another standardized test...and I watch our PTA scramble for the funds to be able to buy a new piece of equipment for our science lab, or make sure after the electric bill gets paid , that there is enough left over for the teacher's salaries that week.
Yet our underpaid teachers have helped our kids achieve one of the highest standardized test scores as compared with those in the public district. We also maintain a Spanish class, Music class, Computer class, an extensive library...and we are one of the pooresr Catholic schools in the Diocese.
I do not know what makes the difference. I know that the ability to teach creatively and make learning fun without the pressure of making sure that kids are prepared for the standardized testing has something to do with it..there are many other reasons as well.
I just wish that the powers that be would open their eyes and see what is at stake here, and realize how they are hurting our children. There is so much more to learning and life than a standardized test. There are so many wonderful teachers who leave college full of ideas and excited at the prospect of sharing all these ideas with our kids, then getting their first job, handed a textbook and told that they must abide by that cirriculum and not stray from it or else. These teachers should be allowed to teach expressively, not read from a textbook manual and have their kids have to choose a. b. c. or d. approach to life and learning.