EDCI 500-02 Reflecting on No Child Left Behind

January 27, 2013

 

I began thinking about how to approach the topic of No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), I immediately started on my thoughts of the matter. I am not especially happy with NCLB, I really do not feel that it is a true test of a teacher’s ability or of a child’s ability to learn. I know that the ultimate goal of NCLB was, “schools are expected to increase their performance for all “students on an annual basis.  The goal is to make sure that eventually 100 percent of their students score at least at the proficient level as measured by these annual tests” (Tavakolian, E., & Howell, N., 71). I think that you have to take into consideration all of the factors involved in education and the child’s life to understand the full measure of education and learning. I decided to ask my children about their feelings on the Standards of Learning tests (SOL) that they take every year, to help me understand the test and motivation of SOL test taking from their point of view.

 

I asked my son, who I will refer to from this point on as Male child, and my daughter who I will refer to as Female child several questions about the SOL’s and why they felt motivated to do well on the test. So that you have a better understanding of the children I will tell you that they are both exceptional learners who are in the gifted program at their school, they are both on Honor Roll every grading period and are both involved in community programs outside of school and involved in clubs after school. I asked them both the same questions and got somewhat different take from both of them.

 

When asked about how Male child felt the teacher’s handled teaching information regarding SOL’s he stated that they were “just pushing kids who don’t want to learn through” he eluded to the idea that they were not interested in the test and that it had become just another chore for them to complete. I then asked Male child how he felt other children approached studying and taking the SOL, he said that “some of the kids memorize things for the test, and then they don’t need it”. I asked Male child if he felt the SOL was a true judge of how he learned, what he had learned or why he feels motivated to learn, “no, it can’t possibly be! I learn for me, because I want to have a great job when I finish school and I know that I can’t have that if I don’t try hard”. When asked if he felt the test was effective in judging how well a teacher taught the information to the class his answer was, “no, not all of the kids care, they don’t care if how well they do”.

 

My interview with Female child was somewhat different, when asked about how she felt the teacher’s handled teaching information regarding SOL’s she stated “well it depends on the teacher, some of the teacher’s really care about the information and others well they don’t even like the kids”. So I asked her how she felt other children approached studying and taking the SOL, she said that “well that really depends on the kid, someone who gets all A’s is really going to try hard, the average kid will try a little, but doesn’t really care, and then the bad kids don’t care at all, they know that they will just get pushed through so the teachers can get rid of them”. I asked Female child if she felt the SOL was a true judge of how she learned, what she had learned or why she feels motivated to learn, “ no, the test is mildly challenging and I learn because I want to too! I don’t need a test to see if I learned the information, I want to learn so I try harder”. When

asked if she felt the test was effective in judging how well a teacher taught the information to the class her answer was, “ no, taking a test is a measure of how well I do with test taking, if you want to see how well a teacher is teaching then maybe they should put video cameras in the classroom and watch them”.

 

I was mildly surprised with the kids answers, I am happy that they realize that they are in-charge of their own success and that they have to motivate themselves, but it really disappoints me to know that a 14 year old and a 12 year old understand education better than Congress or the President of the United States.  I do realize that Congress and the President only wanted, “to close achievement gaps between all students by providing each child with fair and equal opportunities to receive quality elementary and secondary educations” (Tavakolian, E. & Howell, N., 72). When doing my research for the blog, there was not really anything that surprised me. Researchers have found that better teachers have very strong effects, a teacher who regularly have high test score gains in a classroom, and a poor teacher has low test score gains (Hanushek E., Rivkin, S., 134). Each individual state sets a standard for what a highly qualifying teacher is, for most states they have determined that a quality teachers require no additional education or testing achievements (Hanushek E., Rivkin, S., 135). Before NCLB was implemented new teachers were mostly required to have a bachelor’s degree, pass certification testing, and demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter in which they are instructing (Hanushek E., Rivkin, S., 135). Does this make teachers better educators? No, the standard really wasn’t raised, I feel that it truly comes back to the educator and what motivates them to teach, whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

 

The entire problem with education does not solely lie with the educator, some of it should fall on the administration. Does the administration do anything to teachers who fail to perform? How is the information handled, are they punished, do they continue in their position regardless of performance? Do teacher’s unions protect their position? Our textbook tells us that a poor teacher tends to have a poor relationship with their students with “evidence mounting for a strong association between the quality of teacher-child relationships and school performance” (Woolfolk, 7). It also shows that “students who had the least effective teachers three years in a row averaged 29th percentile in math achievement in one district and 44th percentile in the other” (Woolfolk, 7).  So what is administration doing about poor teachers? The data appears to be very limited, we know how to identify, “the extent to which principals can distinguish less-effective and more-effective teachers and are willing to act on that knowledge constitutes a crucial determinant of the benefits of accountability” (Hanushek E., Rivkin, S., 146). Hanushek and Rivkin found that it is relatively unclear what school administration is doing with this information (Hanushek E., Rivkin, S., 146). So where does this leave us, if we do not use the information to move poor teachers out of education, then the NCLB act is ineffective.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0WUqNO0qp4

All in all I think that the intent was pure when coming up with NCLB, I do however think that it is a failure. I think children who are either unmotivated at home or at school will never perform to a set standard if they decide that there is no reason for them to put for the effort. Teachers who are not interest in the overall well being of the classroom, will never be able to excite or motivate a classroom of hungry minds, and finally an administration that has no intention or lack of ability to weed out poor teachers and poor teaching methods is never going to meet or accomplish the goals set before them. However, I don’t think that a federally mandated education act is going to solve all of the problems, especially when it fails to meet the financial demands that it places upon school system.

 

 

 

Hanushek, E. A., & Rivkin, S. G. (2010). The Quality and Distribution of Teachers under the No Child Left Behind Act. Journal of Economic Perspectives24(3), 133-150. doi: 10.1257/jep.24.3.133

 

 

Hoy, A. W. (2013). Educational psychology (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

 

No Child Left Behind: A Decade of Failure [Video]. (2012). United States of America: The Cato Institure. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0WUqNO0qo4

 

 

Tavakolian, H., & Howell, N. (2012). The Impact of No Child Left Behind Act.Franklin Business & Law Journal2012(1), 70-77. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.umw.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?nobk=y&vid=4&sid=745fa67e-b107-4f5d-80d9-375aaed13936@sessionmgr112&hid=126

 

 

Categories: Educational Psychology.

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