Thursday, March 4, 2010

No Child Left Behind

The idea behind No Child Left Behind is noble - all children will be given equal opportunity to an education. NCLB is standards-based education reform,based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. On paper, that's great. Standing in front of 25 8th graders it is not so clear.

Let me explain. In this 8th grade class of 25, there are 3 twelve-year-olds, 10 thirteen-year-olds, 9 fourteen-year-olds, and three fifteen-year-olds. How is the possible? Well, three started school early, sixteen are right on schedule, and six have failed a grade. Some more than once.

The reading level ranges from 2nd grade to post-graduate school. The textbook is written on an 8th grade level - that leaves more than half the class unable to read it. Guess how middle school students act given a reading assignment and they can't read?

Do teachers want to leave children behind? No, absolutely not. Teachers would love to say that students see the value of getting an education and they see education as the key to a better future. But, for the majority of students, the only value they see in school is free food and a place to socialize with their friends.

Do children want to be left behind? That's not as clear. Maybe not left behind but they'd love to be left alone. Long term planning to middle schoolers is what's going to happen in the next 10 minutes. What's the solution? The stock answer is it is the teacher's job to motivate the students to understand the value of an education.

What are teachers actually supposed to do in the classroom tomorrow to make that happen - I don't have a clue. However, if I figure it out I'm going become a consultant and charge school districts a gadzillion dollars to tell them.

No comments: