No Child Left Behind: 'Widespread Demorilzation Of Teachers And Students'
I'm quite dismayed at the amount of support there seems to be out there for instituting merit pay for teachers whose students perform well on tests connected to the No Child Left Behind (as reported by Jamie Musick in a recent tribune article "Educators say 'yes' to merit pay tied to test scores.")Such a procedure misses what many educators have been saying and increasing the numbers of legislators and the public are now coming to realize. The assumptions of NCLB are fundamentally fallacious while it's means are deeply flawed.
A recent local forum on NCLB held with U.S. Rep. Phil English brought out several important points. We need national standards but not the rigidly standardizing methods foisted on communities across the country by the federal government. Performance on standardized tests gives little indication of what students are actually learning and retaining and fails to account for different learning styles and different types of intelligence, leaving perhaps 60 to 70 percent out in the cold. Testing, in and of itself, does not lead to improvement and may in fact undermine it by creating undue anxiety among many students. The goals of the NCLB are patently unrealistic and virtually mandate failure for many districts; there is great consistency in meeting Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) and much cheating from state to state. I would personally add my voice to the chorus of experts around the country who declare that knowledge students are being tested on begs the question of whether it is of any real use to them in this day and age. Moreover, aside from its negative effects on student learning, a moments thought should tell us that high test scores naturally favor those teachers lucky enough to be teaching in affluent districts where students tend to benefit from greater resources and extracurricular activities.
For anyone paying close attention, the punitive regime NCLB has foisted on public education is leading to widespread demoralization of teachers and students. Those who want a taste of this should google a three-part PBS Jim Lehrer "News Hour" investigation of NCLB run a couple weeks ago. It cumulates in an interview of a prize-winning teacher. (profiled by the same program in 1999) who weeps as he talks about quitting the profession because the strictures of NCLB have completely undermined his capacity to teach.
For those who worry about the quality of our teachers, there is much evidence showing that better salaries, improved working conditions and peer-monitoring programs as well as time for the teachers to reflect and collaborate are much more effective ways to ensure teaching excellence than placing them in grim competition with each other. That would add a whole dimension to the charge of "Teaching to The Test". And there's already ample evidence that the pressures of NCLB have led some teachers to resort to cheating.
It would seem that our misguided mania for falsely 'objective' forms of measurement only lead to a further deterioration of the most important institution upon which our democracy is based: public education.
-Professor David Miller-
Ahem, wow. That's a lot of bullshit and I don't have my boots on. First of all, I'd like to state that it's not all bad. Despite having used 'and' at the beginning of a sentence he did in fact state one single truth.
"Testing in itself, does not lead to improvement" Congratulations Prof. You've pinpointed what I've been saying to my teachers for several years.
Anyway back to the negatives, after all, thats what we're here to debate. Alright, I'm sure you, like my teachers, fellow students and myself upon reading this are perhaps somewhat aggravated by his statement. Demorilzation is to give up, to basically become hopeless. When I read this I think that this is merely a professor who's spirit is breaking. Looking for a popular medium to throw out his grievance on. I mean "We need national standards but not the rigidly standardizing methods foisted on communities."? I'm pretty sure we all voted on this act and for god-sakes, an award winning teacher weeps as he speaks of quitting a profession? Bah! Bunkis! I cry out, what a pussy this man must be to just give up like that. He had gone through college to get that job and like that he's ready to give up because he's not the will to stick it out and push his way through the system? Travesty! With all that said it's still short of my words. So. Lets hear your opinions on this!