Posts Tagged ‘Teaching Reforms’

EDCI 506 Governing and Administering Week #5

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Governing and Administering

Why are higher test scores sometimes difficult for students (and teachers) to produce?

In the video that we watched the special education teacher mentioned how a lot of times standardized tests are not focusing on the little gains in students’ education, instead they are only looking for major gains, and that was frustrating to her.  She discussed how the student, herself, and other colleagues have worked really hard to make progress, and that they are making progress (Foundations).  The standardized tests are ones that only assess the child on one day out of the whole year, which the teachers in the video thought made for a bad system.  Another teacher that the video highlighted said that the test does not know her students like she does, if they are sick that day, or if their parents are going through a divorce the test does not know that information.  She said she gets to assess them all year round, which is what standardized assessments should be doing (Foundations).  All of these reasons are many reasons as to why it is difficult for students and teachers alike to produce higher test scores.  There are so many factors that go into producing high test scores such as family life, wellness of the particular test day, amount of sleep the child has had, has the child eaten that day, what is going on in the students social life, their motivation level, and many other factors.

Do you think the NCLB Act is an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance?

Personally, I do not think that NCLB has an effective and accurate way to measure school and student performance, and there are a lot of other people who agree with me.  One reason why I do not believe it to be effective and accurate is because it is only one test on one day out of the entire school year.  The amount of factors that go into a student performing well, which will ultimately reflect upon the schools performance, are many.  For the student, they may be having family problems, they may be sick, they may have distracting thoughts about other areas of their life, there are so many factors, that one test on one day just cannot capture all that a child can do.  This idea that one test on one day of the year is not enough, is supported by the video we watched for this week (Foundations).

 

Another reason why I do not believe it to be an effective and accurate way to measure performance is because all students are different and perform at different levels, but yet they are all expected to meet a minimum standard.  For example, a child may have been 2 grade levels behind in performance, made huge gains during the year and are now currently are performing only a half grade level behind, but the standards according to the NCLB act do not capture those types of gains.  Diane Ravitch agrees with me, she says “I try to encourage people who study child development to speak up, to say, this is wrong, children develop in different ways and at different paces and respond differently to different experiences. Standardized tests can’t be the measure of all things that have to do with children” (Educational Leadership, 2012).

 

A third reason why I do not think the NCLB act is an effective and accurate way to measure student and school performance is because it is only measures the minimal competency levels and only measures specific subjects.  In some of my other courses at UMW, we are discussing the multiple forms of intelligences; if a child is not very good at math, but has a lot of intelligence in the musical areas, does that mean they child is not intelligent in any areas according to standards?  There are many reasons why the NCLB act does not provide effective and accurate forms of performance measurements from the students and school, but these are just a few of my ideas.

 

What will you do if a student with a disability is in your classroom? How will you meet their specific needs? Who will you consult for assistance?

 

I am assuming that at some time or another in my teaching career I will have children with disabilities in my classroom.  I think and hope I will treat them as fairly and as equally as possible and make sure that I am including them in all of the lessons, which I will make appropriate for their specific level.  I think that I would do more research on whatever disability they may have, and try to understand it to the best of my ability.  I would also find research based instructional tips that deal specifically with students who have the same or similar disability and use those in my lessons to better my instruction and to better meet the needs of that child.  Of course I will accommodate the assignments and evaluation processes where necessary, and will also modify the curriculum where necessary.  I also hope to have a very collaborative relationship with the special education teacher, and any other specialist that can guide me in how to better serve all children, but especially children with disabilities.

 

Think of a few teaching reforms that are currently taking place in a school, district, or state. Which reforms do you think will stick? Why? Which instructional practices have remained constant? What factors contribute to their persistence?

One reform that has changed teaching practices is the accountability reform that coincides with the NCLB Act.  I do not think that this reform will stay around because I think it is going to be nearly impossible to have all children in the U.S. meet the proficiency standards set for English and Math by 2014.  In a New York Times article (2011), Larry K. Shumway, a Superintendent in Utah, is quoted saying, “Pretty soon all the schools will be failing in America, and at that point the law becomes meaningless.”  I think that it has stayed around this long so far because of its good intentions, and also because of how difficult it is to change national reforms like this.

 

Another teaching reform that is very controversial is tracking.  Tracking has been going on for a long time.  Our textbook dates tracking back to the colonial periods and before, it reads, “The colonists at first recreated the socioeconomic class-based dual-track school system that they had known in Europe.  Boys and girls from the lower socioeconomic class attended primary schools… Meanwhile, the upper-class boys attended Latin grammar schools… (Orstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p.128).  Currently tracking is a system being practiced in many schools across America.  Children are being identified as advanced and therefore take advanced classes in all areas, and the same goes for underperformers.  But are these children who are identified as advanced and college material really advanced in ALL areas?  And are the underperformers really underperforming in all areas and are bound to blue-collar jobs?  There are many pros and cons to a tracking system and that is why I think it has been around for so long.  Jeannie Oakes is a scholar in the area of tracking and has written many books on the topic.  In one of her books, Keeping Track, she discusses the viewpoints of people for and against tracking.  One of the reasons for it is because it helps teacher be able to tailor their lessons to a more specific population, and it also might make the students feel more comfortable by being surrounded by peers with similar abilities.  A reason against tracking it because it makes the self-fulfilling prophecy come true; a teacher’s expectations about students will become reality (Oakes, 1986).  Tracking is a system that has been around for a very long time and will continue to stay around because many people see the system as beneficial.

 

Here is some more information on tracking from Jeannie Oakes perspective.  You do not have to read the whole thing, but it has a lot of good information if you wanted to know more about tracking.

http://academic.sun.ac.za/mathed/174/Oakes.pdf

 

References

 

Dillion, S. (2011, August 14). State challenges seen as whittling away federal education law. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/education/15educ.html?_r=0

 

Dodge, A. & Ravitch, D. (2011). The resourceful school. Educational Leadership 69(4). 54-58.

 

Foundations: aligning instruction with federal legislation (Video file). Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Retrieved form http://college.cengage.com/education/resources/students/video_cases/protected/hmfm_education/index.html?layer=act&src=qtiworkflowflash_vc42_screen.xml

 

Oakes, J. (1986). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality (2nd ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

 

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


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