I’m still waiting to find out whether I will teach 5th grade, 4th/5th grade combo, 2nd grade, or a K/1 combo on Tuesday. It will probably be 5th grade, but only by default, as the decision will be deferred a few more days or a few more weeks, so that we all have more time to settle in before being horrifically up-rooted. I have difficulty imagining what the district office does all day, if not make their unquestionably most important decisions, but I suspect I don’t want to try too hard. I think it involve 8-hours, a lunch break and donuts, whereas mine involved 14-hours, missing dinner with my fiancée, and McDonalds. Let’s move on.
The discussion draft of the No Child Left Behind 2.0 is being circulated. The NYT has a frightfully short report and I am terribly short on energy, leading to a marvelous symbiosis of commentary.
“President Bush’s signature education law, No Child Left Behind…”
Yes. Signature it is. What other administration could have produced such a poorly designed and poorly enacted piece of policy? Here’s a new way to explain the disaster of NCLB to the educationally uninformed: Imagine the educational version of the Iraq War. Barely planned, awfully executed, under-equipped, laced with corruption, and exacting a horrific cost on our nation we’ve only begun to appreciate, ---which one am I writing of, hmm?
“which ties school aid to standardized-test scores”
Yes, but not as you might think. This statement implies that making said test scores entitles you to more aid and not making them gets you less. Actually it’s the other way around. Now that we’re officially labeled a failing school, we’re looking forward to having some more money to acquire the resources we need to change that. Some of my friends at schools that have worked their way out of failing status are worried about how to continue that without the money the label provides.
“may be changed to elevate other criteria and exclude results for some non-native speakers of English”
Yes. This just in: Students labeled by virtue of not passing English tests may not pass English tests. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t test the ELLs, I’m saying we should test them well.
“States would be able to develop assessments of progress”
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Let’s recognize that schools can make a difference without reaching arbitrary and absolute benchmarks.
“tests would go beyond English and math to include history and science”
Yes, yes, a million times yes. This will cause havoc as schools try to deal with having to teach four subjects again rather than two. They need that havoc. I’m firmly in the camp that believes that when we teach history and science, we’ll see our three-R scores go up as well. Reading and math are, for all but our English and Math academes, means to an end. Let’s give children a taste of the end and see if it motivates them a little better than simply more and more of the same means.
“Schools would be judged partly on graduation rates and college enrollment.”
Yes, yes, a billion times yes. I suspect this only for high schools, but what a brilliant idea to extend it down to middle and elementary schools. We must keep our eyes on the prize, which is not simply passing a test in 3rd or 5th grade. Not The Man, nor my district, nor TFA, has ever once addressed the graduation and college enrollment rate of our students. Teachers had to look that up ourselves and found that our district/state doesn’t even track the right data! There is no sense of ownership over the longitudinal performance of our students and there absolutely should be. This is a great idea.
I’m feeling rather positive, aren’t I?
“This draft is a work in progress, subject to change over the coming weeks…”
Oy. Well, much like my 24-student class, this seems great until someone higher-up mucks it all up.
“Hound Dog”: An Old Dog That Keeps on Running
59 minutes ago