January 8, 2007

Another NCLB article

This time from the CSM:

Just 41 percent of all white fourth graders meet the standard in reading, for instance. For both reading and math, only 13 percent of all black fourth graders are "proficient." Teachers complain of the stigma of being a failing school, and principals worry about the myriad ways they could end up on a watch list.

But there's only one main way: not teaching effectively.

I bet the average Joe has no idea just how low these proficiency rates really are. I don't think many people realize that only one out of eight black fourth graders can read a fourth grade passage and answer simple comprehension questions.

Take a look at this stunning growth in 8th grade reading levels:

Yet, despite such dismal results, we still have the usual collection of dimwits who think everything is just peachy (except funding levels of course):

A coalition called the Forum on Educational Accountability now has more than 100 groups - including the NAACP and the National Education Association - which have signed a list of 14 requested changes to the law. They include lowering the current proficiency targets, providing more assistance to failing schools, getting rid of sanctions with less record of improvement, and encouraging testing designed to measure higher thinking skills and performance throughout the year. (emphasis mine)

I'm always amused the most by the calls for "testing designed to measure higher thinking skills and performance." The current tests clearly show students aren't learning basic skills, what makes them think they've learned higher level skills?

"We'd be better off putting money into the teachers, teaching them how to be better assessors, and building in methods for spot checking and getting feedback," Mr. Neill [FairTest director and loon] says.

a) why do teachers need more training and money to perform such a core teaching function and b) why not do both.

So what's the main problem with NCLB. Fordham's Mike Petrelli nails it:

"What we've learned more than anything else is that the federal government isn't well-equipped to force school districts to do things they don't want to do," Mr. Petrilli says.

Educators just don't want to change what they're doing despite the fact that it's causing mass educational failure, especially among the poor and historically underperforming minority groups.


Anonymous said...

I keep posting and nothing shows up. I am relatively new.. let me see if this works. I actually work in a high poverty 84% high African American minority 99% school and believe it or not i go to work there every day and try to make some changes.. I love your writing style and want to debate the scripted reading issue- but I have to see if my post works this time. I think it is jinxed.

Anonymous said...

Ok.. this showed up today- Monday let me see if it is there Tuesday.
So you like the scripts..? DI - seems to get the nod.. how about SFA- and also.. I am confused - Patent Attorney??? How do you know all this.. confused...What about the poetry- reading out loud to build language to make the decoding purposeful. Rhyming is not a bad thing- it is critical as an oral listening comprehension skill.. hearing language builds auditory processing.. in a fun way- rhyming? Poetry? comeone- building the future for figurative language - simple poems? comeon...

KDeRosa said...

Hi Sue.

Here's what I believe.

There exists such a thing as good instruction and teacher presention and that this is capable of being scripted. I also believe that other teachers can use this script to improve their own teaching.

So, I'd say there are good scripts and bad scripts. DI is a good script. I'm sure there are lots of bad scripts. Don't know enough about SfA to say either way.

I don't have any problem with rhyming per se, but introducing poetry to kid with diminished language skills will tend to confuse more than improve teaching. The time for poetry comes when the students have mastered enough basic reading skills to read and understand the poetry.

My job as a patent attorney is to learn new technology quickly and become sufficiently knowledgable to write about. Learning about education was easy compared to learning about encryption algorithms, automatic transmissions, and all the other crap I have to learn about.