Monday, July 24, 2006

Warm day rant on NCLB

How hot is it?
Originally uploaded by mahlness.
Not to obsess about the heat too much, but it is getting a bit on the unbearable side around here, with our fourth day in a row of mid nineties, no AC, and very little breeze.... we are warm weather wimps out here in Seattle.

This has been bugging me for some time. It is about testing, NCLB, students, and teachers. It is about the basic assumptions behind testing and raising the bar of achievement.

Background point 1: states are mandated to test, and then increase test scores.
Background point 2: there is no funding for any of this to happen - for testing or for increasing achievement.

Assumption point 1: teachers are not teaching as hard as they should be.
Assumption point 2: students are not trying as hard as they should.
Assumption point 3: in order to make test scores go up, teachers and students just need to try harder.

This IS the plan. For those of us who leave a portion of our souls in the classroom every day, this is an incredible, demoralizing insult. For our kids who give it their all every day, this cuts the legs out from under their motivation.

If there were new instructional techniques being promoted, if there were new training being provided, if there were assistance from somebody for students and their families - and if there were any money to pay for ANY of this, then my Assumption points above would not hold water.

However, there is absolutely no plan for how to increase academic achievement. Wait, I take that back. Here is the plan: raise the bar! If you do that, achievement will go up!

How? Well, there is no plan for how. Just try harder, I guess.

(my personal core temperature just went up five degrees, not helping much with the need for cooling, but I feel better having pointed out the obvious)
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Anonymous said...

One thing: Summers in Fairbanks are dry and can be positively sizzling at 80F. You understand. I know it's hotter elsewhere, but I am not fit to live anywhere else anymore. I'll take cold weather any day, though it is nice to sit in the shade and drink beer.

The other thing: "For those of us who leave a portion of our souls in the classroom" this is absolutely criminal. We have to learn to turn off the hurt feelings and get pissed at what this is doing to kids. I have taught a long while, like you, and I am dedicating the rest of my career to being a pain in the ass. If I wanted to retire, and even if I could afford it, I wouldn't do it now because the resistance work is just beginning.

Hope is not a feeling, Jimmie. Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the conviction that what we are doing makes sense, no matter how things turn out. (Bruce Sterling, The Zenith Angle, p.340)

Stay cool.

Anonymous said...

In Reno we've had about 3 weeks of 98 to 104 degree temperatures - Its hot but on many of those days our humidity is less than 10% so that actually helps quite a bit - as does the fact that it cools off well at night at almost 5000 feet elevation even on the hottest days.

Doug sounds like he has rejoined the fight - Great! - wheras Mark I know you have said you are more into just doing the best job you can and not get caught up in it too much (understandable, probably smart). I just wish we could get enough people geared up so that we could get some real change going or at least seriously discussed, its tough when its just a few doing the ranting!
Viva la resistance!!!

Mark Ahlness said...

Guys, thanks for the encouraging words. This is high summer, but teaching is getting to be a year 'round proposition anymore. Hard to leave it behind.

I just got back from a few hours in my classroom where basically everything web 2.0 is blocked. I'm even talking edublogs. All wikis. David Warlick. Thousands of others. They say they are in transition with a new filter, but looking at the default settings for Internet filtering, well... game over in my book. Very demoralizing. Zero local support.

I will take comfort in fleadom - right, Doug?

Anonymous said...

Marc --

Just wanted to take a minute to say "Amen!" I've been working my way up to another NCLB rant for a while, mostly because I'm seeing what the testing craze and the anti-teacher mindset behind it is doing here in Philadelphia. Your post will definitely be the launching point for mine.

Thanks... and keep the faith. We'll get there.