Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chuck v. No Child Left Behind Round 1

So, Mr. Prez want to focus on high-schools for the next four years of the wonderful No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Here are my issues with this.

Since the act is NO child left behind lets just talk about one child. Assume that one child comes into our high school reading at a sixth grade level (not uncommon) and unable to perform multiplication and division without a calculator (also not uncommon). This child is at an obvious disadvantage entering high school. Now in order to adhere to the standards required by NCLB lets assume this child has to take a standardized test. Lets also assume that the test covers reading comprehension, essay writing, basic algebra and geometry. So, in order to prepare this child we need to get them caught up. This child needs to be in a reading class. Most likely they are in an average or slightly remedial 10th grade english class. Where are they going to learn to read? Title 1 pays for tutoring... Oh but we can't force the child to go. We can't even force them to come to school. Lets play it safe and say they come for tutoring once a week. Now we need to focus on writing. Ooops, we don't have a writing class. More tutoring. Now we need to teach them how to multiply and divide. Which means they don't know about fractions and percents or ratios. Well we don't have that class either. So stick them in remedial math. Really, though, that's just pre-algebra. So more tutoring. OK. Now we see it's going to be very difficult to get this child who probably doesn't care, doesn't have at home support and doesn't want to get help to come in for the tutoring they need. Even if they do. That still only gives us 4.5 months before they change classes. Even if the same teacher keeps the child for a whole year the test comes around in March or April. The results don't come until the next year. Now the teachers who struggled to help our child have 150 new students 15-30 of whom statistically need help passing the standardized test. Who helps our child now? The new teacher? Hmmmm... Doesn't sound so good for our child does it?

This, among other reasons, is why focusing on high schools for testing is not very efficient. If you want to test for some standardized knowledge in order to remedy diffecencies it makes much more sense to do it in Elementary schools where teachers have more time to focus on the 30 students they have all year. It also makes more sense because elementary school is where the building blocks that are most important should be built. High Schools cannot repair building block defficencies and impart their curriculum as well, let alone prepare for a standardized tests.

Thus Round 1 concludes. Expect Round 2 soon where Chuck battles the principle of giving choices to parents.

--Chuck

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