Obama to makeover “No Child Left Behind”?!

I read this article from the New York Times today: “Obama calls for remaking of No Child Left Behind“, which shows a picture of our president in a classroom with some students, in front of a Smartboard with a picture of Duke Ellington on it, with some writing (hard to make out) and his signature. Looks nice, but a lot of things look nice on the outside…

The article is full of inspiration and political jargon-isms, like Obama encouraging “lawmakers to ‘seize this education moment’.” It’s not only a great thing that Obama wants children to know they’re a priority, it’s more needed than ever. In this touch economy, high school students feel more pressure to do more (and do it better) in school, to get into a good school with scholarships. And even if they get a college degree, there’s no guarantee for jobs. I’ve talked previously “kids these days”. Education these days is bad off. Linking teacher pay to student test performance is a bad idea. I read another article earlier where someone said teaching is the only profession where there aren’t pay raises based on performance (something like that). Well, how are we to be held responsible for a lack of parenting, or, previous teachers who haven’t upheld the high bar of standards.

The article addresses this new concern by saying that Obama wants to give more power to state and local government in education, hoping to “improve the quality of testing, demand increased standards and increase accountability by principals.” I quoted that because all of those things sound like empty political platforms. Nice ideas, but I’d like to see his specific ideas for increasing principal accountability or an explanation of which standards we need to be increasing. Standards like standardized testing that can’t possibly accommodate all the diverse types of learners there are in the student population today? I have so many problems with testing, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but, teachers probably have a lot better perspective than the people who will end up making these important decisions.

It’s really unfortunate. Here’s that article I read about an algorithm developed to measure teacher quality, which glaringly showed wrong outcomes right off the bat (yuck, yuck, yuck).

Obama rounds out his inspiring speech by saying something about how a budget that stiffs education would wrong the youth of today, adults of tomorrow. Again, it sounds nice, but, I won’t keep my fingers crossed. There are still wars being funded and corrupt institutions being bailed out. I guess I do have some strong opinions. And, once again, I don’t know exactly how I’d do it better, but I guess my main point is that this article seemed to be full of empty promises. Is there another election or a poll coming up or something?

No Child Left Behind definitely needs to be improved, as it was a complete failure, and I believe in Obama more than I would have Bush, but, it’s the government. I’ll be interested to see the follow-through with this.

Update to Quiz Troubles- Offering a 1-Time Correction Opportunity

I decided to offer the students who did poorly on the quiz a worksheet on direct object pronouns that they are got to do in class, by themselves in silence. The students seemed happy about this, and were grateful because I said I would give them up to three of the points they missed if they got the entire worksheet correct. For the students who did fine on that section and overall I found a fun clothing crossword puzzle.

I only offered this worksheet to second period. In sixth period, as I said, most of the scores were very good. I also only intend to do something like this once. I didn’t tell them that, which maybe I should have, but I will address it later if it comes up.

When I was going around the room monitoring their work I was surprised to see so many of them still having trouble, even with ones where there was a clear example provided. So I did my best at balancing giving them a little help, with letting them try to figure it out and me figuring that if they didn’t know it by now, it is somewhat their fault for not paying more attention.

That might sound like a bad attitude to have, but there aren’t many more ways I can give examples or get them to practice. Some of them didn’t do the homework at first and some of them were sick a few times.

In the end I was glad that I didn’t have to give a failing grade to the one student.

My teacher also showed me a book that accompanies the text that has a ton of sample quizzes and tests- and they were much easier than what I had given. They were easier because they had a lot more multiple choice, which I don’t think is a really good way to test student’s learning. I think I will use that as a guide and adapt some of the exercises, but I’m glad I challenged the students and most of them rose to the challenge.

My First Quiz I Made Up

I gave a quiz over the concepts we had been learning (which were not anywhere near as contextualized as I would have liked) and some students did really poorly on the direct object pronoun section. It made me wonder if I hadn’t taught it enough, or well enough (even though I had incorporated it into clothing and I had been talking about it pretty much since I started teaching them). I had also given homework and feedback on it so they would hopefully understand.

My teacher made a good point about it being hard for them to understand the grammar concepts in English, so I think I will continue to go over direct and indirect object pronouns and give concrete, understandable examples (some in English, even though that’s what I’m trying to move away from)

I had a good time making my first quiz, and drew on what we had gone over in class. I also used my past two decades of schooling and assessments I’ve undergone for reference and finally passed it by my cooperating teacher. She said it looked good and would be appropriate for them based on what they observed.

I thought it was fine until I saw how many kids didn’t do so well on the one section. After talking with my teacher, she defended me and the instruction I’d been giving them. She said that they either weren’t trying hard enough, or were being lazy about paying attention and looking at the generous corrections I’d made on their homework.

In the end I guess it was a decently appropriate assessment because 6th period did fine, and only one person in 2nd period failed.

Last test ever is done. Now it is time for me to give the tests!

I took the Comprehensive Exam administered by my Graduate School program yesterday morning. I am so bad at studying and preparing that I realized I didn’t even remember if it was Oral or Written. It was written- luckily- it lasts three hours!

They gave us a theme based on an article from an educational review. Basically the theme was diversity and how there is a boom in the increase of diversity in a changing student population. This includes English language learners, children with diverse special needs, and a larger representation of diverse ethnicities and cultures.

We had three different essays to write from a choice of six. I was and wasn’t surprised at how much overlap occurred in each question- I guess that’s just how it is when there is only one theme and because they were from all the core basic courses and education is all linked together.

I feel like I passed, which would be good, because it is a major requirement for graduating. I would get another chance if necessary, but I do not want to do that again- my finger got sore and red where I was holding the pencil the most. It was also be nice to just be finished with taking tests.

That seems weird. I do not enjoy tests, but I recognize their importance. Standardized testing, on the other hand, is something I have much more negative feelings about. Which will be interesting to see when I student teach (to see if it seems like the teachers are driven primarily by standards or if they seem to be “teaching to the test”).

For now, I’m going to relax, and wait to hear about my student teaching placement, and maybe add some more educational theory to this site. Not to mention wait for both my Praxis II and Comp results (but not with much feeling either way).