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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NCLB; What Is Happening and Should It Be Overhauled?

This article appeared in the NY Times about districts struggling with NCLB mandates. From the article:

"But more than 1,000 of California’s 9,500 schools are branded chronic failures, and the numbers are growing. Barring revisions in the law, state officials predict that all 6,063 public schools serving poor students will be declared in need of restructuring by 2014, when the law requires universal proficiency in math and reading.

“What are we supposed to do?” Ms. Paramo asked. “Shut down every school?”

With the education law now in its fifth year — the one in which its more severe penalties are supposed to come into wide play — California is not the only state overwhelmed by growing numbers of schools that cannot satisfy the law’s escalating demands.

In Florida, 441 schools could be candidates for closing. In Maryland, some 49 schools in Baltimore alone have fallen short of achievement targets for five years or more. In New York State, 77 schools were candidates for restructuring as of last year."

With these stats that question becomes, "Now what?"

Is this the problem?

“They’re so busy fighting No Child Left Behind,” said Mary Johnson, president of Parent U-Turn, a civic group. “If they would use some of that energy to implement the law, we would go farther.”

Is it teachers' unions? (Yes, I know the land mine I just stepped on. For public disclosure, my father was in a union nearly all his working life and unions have brought a lot of safety and equity issues forward in the U.S. Having said that, sometimes you have to wonder about the clash between teaching and protecting teachers within the union.) From the article:

"But the tensions voiced here are echoed by parents elsewhere, as well as by school officials.

At Woodrow Wilson High one recent morning, teachers broke into small groups over coffee studying test scores for areas of weakness. But there were limits to what they would learn.

The teachers analyzed results for the entire school, not for their own students. Roberto Martinez, the principal, said he had not given teachers the scores of their own students because their union objects, saying the scores were being used to evaluate teachers.

“And who suffers?” asked Veronica Garcia, an English teacher at Wilson. “The kids suffer, because the teacher never gets feedback.”

A. J. Duffy, president of United Teachers of Los Angeles, said the union supported test score reviews provided they did not affect teachers’ jobs. Mr. Duffy said the federal law glossed over the travails of teaching students living in poverty. “Everyone agrees that urban education needs a shot in the arm, but it is not as bleak as the naysayers would have it,” he said."

Maybe a teacher can help me out here but as I recall Washington state teachers can't see their students' WASL tests when the scores come out. I find this hard to understand. Teachers need feedback. I remember when my son was in elementary school that the 4th grade teacher wished she could see the tests (this was for Spectrum) because sometimes the kids she thought would breeze through the math portion had low scores. She said she would have liked to be able to figure out what went wrong to be able to tell that child's 5th grade teacher. That's the kind of individual help kids need and I'm not sure it happens.

7 comments:

Jet City mom said...

Maybe a teacher can help me out here but as I recall Washington state teachers can't see their students' WASL tests when the scores come out. I find this hard to understand. Teachers need feedback

I agree.
Not only can't the teachers see where the sticky points are, but parents have to make an appt to see the test AND can't take notes or make copies when they do so.

For a parent whose child received ONES( in math) taking the WASL for 4th- 7th & 10th grade- this is not helpful in the least.
( 7th grade she received 2s in reading and writing- 1s in math- in 9th grade she changed schools and received 4s in reading and writing- G-J is on the right track to expect all schools including alternative schools to have high expectations for all students and to provide them with the tools to achieve- in her alternative school it wasn't the students who didn't take the WASL seriously, it was the teachers- In high school, the teachers don't accept excuses, not from the students and not from themselves)

However- she advanced four years in math, from beginning of 9th grade to the beginning of 11th, with hard work and determination from herself and her teachers and passed the Math WASL when she retook it.

If we want to educate our students & we are using the WASL to determine if they have reached the level we have set- it hurts them if we can't individualize our curriculum where they need help.

What purpose does it serve for it to be a secret?
I find it ironic, that the company that scores the SAT ( and who releases the completed tests to students) also scores the WASL.
On the SAT you are expected to have a calculator and to go over your essay- not so on the WASL
Why the difference in expectations?

Anonymous said...

The WASL is badly broken. They don't want to release too much specific information, because that would demonstrate just how broken it really is, and raise pressure to change the system.

Anonymous said...

How DO you get to see your child's WASL? What is the process? Does the child need to have failed? What if your native language isn't English?

Anonymous said...

I got my child's (4th grade) WASL scores about a month ago - she's in 5th grade now - along with a (form)letter from the governor congratulating her on passing. Is this not the case for everyone? Why would some people get their kids' scores and not others?

Anonymous said...

I want to see the actual test and the responses, and how it was graded... not just the score.

Charlie Mas said...

With the score comes instructions for requesting a view of the actual test and answers.

Anonymous said...

http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/TestAdministration/pubdocs/ViewWASLSpring2007Form_8.31.2007.pdf