Monday, February 4, 2008

Don't be an Ass.

Pulling the Cart of NCLB:

In order to understand the prevailing climate in public education one first must examine the impact of No Child Left Behind which was spawned by the Smith and O’day led standards based movement (Linn, 2005). The basic premise of NCLB is school accountability for student achievement with the admirable goal of producing a generation of adults better prepared to meet the demands of contemporary society. The carrot or stick if you prefer for accomplishing this task is federal funding and standardized tests are employed as the metric du Jour (Linn, 2005).

It has often been said that what gets measured gets done and unfortunately what is getting done in our public school system is an alarming narrowing of the curriculum as resources are redirected to meet AYP (Hass, 1991). With the educational spotlight firmly fixed on core subjects such as math and English, education in the area of the arts and humanities has been seemingly left to wither in darkness (Eisner, 2005). Additionally, the contemporary curriculum rationale involves mandated learning objectives which are in essence, what we teach. Educators then prep to teach the what, help students learn it, measure the results, and then apply a points system of reward. This cycle is perpetuated until the educational objectives are achieved (Baker, 2004).

In order to validate that learning has taken place summative assessments are used to measure classroom level student performance in our public schools. In actuality, educators could and should be incorporating formative assessments which help to focus students on the task instead of the right answer and have been demonstrated to result in significant learning gains (Black & William, 1998).

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”.
-author unknown.

So what are we getting from our present educational process which has basically existed in it’s current form for the last century? According to a 2005 survey from the National Association of Manufacturers, 80 percent of employers say K-12 schools are not doing an adequate job of preparing students for work. Furthermore the same study reported 55 percent of employers believe our high school graduates have not even acquired basic employability skills such as attendance, timeliness, and a good work ethic.

If you put a carrot in front of a donkey it will pull your cart right off the edge of the cliff to get the carrot. I believe it reasonable to assume that the current White House administration which signed No Child Left Behind into legislation is driving the educational cart. The question remains, who is the ASS pulling it?

No comments: