This week in class, we studied the No Child Left Behind Act. In an education class, I have to admit we went a bit farther in studying this act than in my AP Government class. That is probably why it wasn’t until this week that I realized that this act was not the perfect little guidelines my head perceived it as.
Basically it requires a standardized test be given to all students in public schools. Schools that to not meet constantly increasing standards, risk losing their Title 1 funding in just a few years. During our discussion, I kept thinking “This doesn’t keep kids from being left behind… this could leave kids and schools behind.”
The first thing that stuck out to me was the high stakes testing. I wrote a previous post on teaching to tests rather than teaching to students and I think this act drastically increases this problem. Not only are students pressured to do well on tests, teachers are pressured to make their students do well on tests. If their students don’t do well, this is a result of the teachers teaching. This opens the door to many problems. What if the teachers neglect the slightly above average students? What if the teachers only focus on the test and leave students out other important arenas in the student’s education? What if the teachers ignore the struggling students because of a predetermined notion they can’t do well on the test? My last post talked about the stress and anxiety of testing and the toll it takes on high schoolers; I can’t imagine elementary schoolers would be able to handle it any better.
Another definite problem is the funding. Imagine you are a teacher in a classroom and you had just taught a lesson. The students then individually worked on an assignment assessing their comprehensions of the lesson. Many students are doing great and a couple students are struggling to work through the assignment. Are you going to put extra time and resources into those students already doing well, or those who are struggling? – the students who are struggling.
That’s how I think of taking away Title 1 funding from schools who don’t meet AYP. Those schools are the schools that are struggling, or have students who are, yet these are also the same schools this funding is being removed from. If they are already having trouble, how can they progress or provide the required extra tutoring and education with even less funding than they had before? Now similarly in the case of the students, you don’t want to neglect the schools that do reach AYP just like you wouldn’t neglect the students that grasp this assignment, but money isn’t limitless.
In our class, we went in circles discussing different ways to fund schools: Give more to the schools that don’t meet AYP, give less but still some to those schools, give an equal amount of money to all schools. We never could reach a perfect conclusion (and there may not be one at all), but most of us agreed that this was probably not it.