How Nebraska Leaves No Child Behind | TIME
- Quote: Most state education officials grumble that the pressure-packed annual
tests and rigid adequate yearly progress (AYP) targets engendered by
the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law are flawed means of
measuring student proficiency, raising academic standards, holding
schools accountable and fostering learning. But since the penalty for
defying the law is loss of federal funds, most treat NCLB’s
prescriptives like bitter medicine they can’t afford to spit out. All,
that is, except the iconoclasts who run the public schools in Nebraska.
Note: I wonder what property values are like in Lincoln?
– post by willrich
First let me say what needs to be said: GO HUSKERS! (a pride filled obligation of any UNL grad). OK, so now let me say that I applaud my home state for it’s grass roots effort to find a better way. I am, however, a bit confused by the article…it says that 85% of students meet federal requirements, but then on the clickable map it seems that their “test” is well below the mark in relationship to federal standards….I see the map is from 2005 data, but it still seems like conflicting information to me. I am not sure it really says anything except that some dedicated people are working very hard to find a different way of cranking out some random score that really tells us nothing about how our students think….again, I commend them for trying to find a better way, but does it really address the needs of our students either way? Am I not understanding this?
Eric Langhorst says
I too an a native Nebraskan (now living in the Kansas City area), yell GO BIG RED at random in large crowds and have a graduate degree from the University of Nebraska. I taught in Nebraska public schools for 7 years before moving to Missouri. I also read the Time article last week that gave credit to Nebraska for the homegrown testing effort but one has to ask about how valid the test is when drawing comparisons to other states. Check out the interactive map showing 2005 test data from the article at http://www.time.com/time/2007/nochild/ When you compare Nebraska test scores in math it is a 85% on the state test and a 35% on the national test – a difference of 50 points. The scores for reading have an even wider gap – 89% on the state test and a 34% on the national test – a difference of 55 points. Mississippi has a huge difference on their reading scores – 89% on the state test and 18% on the national test – a huge 71 point drop.
I’m not a fan of NCLB and one of the reasons is this gap in the state testing with which we are judged by NCLB to meet AYP. We are not all running the same race. The paper copy of the Time magazine with the article – June 4, 2007 – has a chart on page 39 which really shows this gap in the state testing. Missouri is second to last only to DC in terms of the state testing results but yet our state test is only 2% different than our national test scores and are very comparable with other states.
I’m also not a big fan of a group in DC creating a national test that we all must follow like sheep but states will only continue to water down their own tests in order to meet AYP as the bar gets higher. The current system of NCLB has good intentions and I’m sure has helped some school districts get on the ball but it has some major flaws. I encourage you to read the Time cover story – it has some good suggestions at the end including local solutions and better teachers in bad schools.
I have read the cover story as well, and feel much the same about NCLB and the inequity in state tests. I too, am now a Missourian, and although I feel good about the fact that our test is close to the federal standard, I still fundamentally disagree with subjecting our students to this kind of warped measuring stick. I am especially reflective on this topic right now, as I am preparing to go into the belly of the beast….I will be grading a portion of the CA third grade test next week. I am trying to put myself in the frame of mind “don’t kill the messenger” so as not to make a fuss to these people who will be running the grading site. I have adopted the idea of keeping my enemy closer. I hope I can perhaps make some comments that will make others think about the process….without getting kicked out:) Wish me luck!
Eric Langhorst says
Good luck on the grading of the test. I teach 8th grade American History, which of course is not a subject area which is tested at this time in Missouri – good because they leave me along and let me teach my content, bad because since it is not a tested area we see less and less in terms of time and resources toward teaching social studies. I will be doing a podcast about my reflections on NCLB soon on my podcast.
Andy Losik says
Living in Omaha would also mean your kid gets a shot at having Tony Vincent in his or her school.
Eric Langhorst says
Andy – I don’t think Tony is in the classroom anymore as a teacher of a regular education class. He is doing education technology presentations full time – I think.
Chris Lehmann says
You know I’ve been raving about Nebraska and Doug Christensen for a while now. Thrilled to see his program getting mainstream recognition.
Doug Christensen has been fighting for what’s right in education for a long time now. And I know it hasn’t been easy.
Our local Nebraska news reported a while back that Nebraska spent millions on these local assessments. How much did we loose in NCLB funding? If I remember correctly it was about $120,000. That’s certainly worth the trade-off.
And Andy, thanks for the super cool comment above! While I don’t have my own classroom anymore, I do get around to visit Omaha schools and students.