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Trying to explain and understand NCLB


Active member
Oct 4, 2005
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As you can see, I am a noob to these forums, but not to debate forums in general. So if this issue has been debated to death, please forgive me.

As a teacher and member of the National Education Association teachers union I have always opposed the No Child Left Behind act signed into law by Bush. Unfortunately, sometimes I think I opposed it because it was affiliated with Bush and because my union opposed it.

Lately, I've had the opportunity to examine the act and understand it more. Especially since the school I work at has been classified SINA (School In Need of Assistance) because we were unable to test 95% of our students last year.

Therein lies one of the problems with NCLB. If less than 95% of your students show up on a standardized test day, your school falls into the SINA category. You can schedule make-up dates, but if parents hold their kids out, your school is still at fault. And if kids refuse to take the test or play hookey that day, you are still at fault.

Two other problems with NCLB, and the ones that are most bothersome to me, is how a school is graded out.

The school can be held for sanctions if more than 95% of your students fall below the 42 percentile on standardized tests. That is 95% of the students that should be tested at that test period. For example, if 100 kids at the school are tested in reading on Monday, and 51 of them end up with a score of 41, your school is liable to face sanctions. Even if 3 of those kids have just moved here from a non-English speaking country and speak no English. And 7 of those kids are considered some sort of Special Education. And if 10 kids are called in sick. So now you have 80 kids out of a hundred to make up 95% of the testable students. Do the math.

Finally, just the fact that the school can be sanctioned based solely on the current year is irksome. The sanctions should be based on how the cohort of students have done in a five year period.

Take 100 kids that enter 5th grade together. Test them that year and establish baseline data. Say 5 kids are advanced (scoring over 75%), 35 kids are proficient (scoring between 42 and 74%) and 60 kids are developing (scoring below 42%). Now track them, no matter where they go to school, each year. If the number of developing kids goes down, while the proficient and advanced numbers go up, your education system is a success.

You are never going to have 95% of your kids scoring in the proficient and advanced categories, it isn't feasible, but it is an ambitious goal to shoot for, and one that most school districts should shoot for.
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