This is a post from Dr. Passman concerning practices in the classroom and the impact NCLB is having upon them.
I have been entering into a wonderful series of discussions with Dr. Roger Passman about NCLB. I myself am a doctoral student within education, and have been teaching for nearly 20 years. Although Dr. Passman and I don’t always see eye to eye, I think the discussions and the dialogue is important. Happily, it is also civil and not based on rhetoric. I would advise any interested in their child’s education to follow his posts.
My own comments follow:
I don’t know if that is the case. This discussion we are having reminds me of the one I have with my building principal on some occassions. We are both dye in the wool Constructivists and I add a large Socratic spin to my methods. I try to mix student centered learning by doing along with group discussions that are usually quite lively. However, I don’t see the problem with that and taking a standardized test.
As an example, I have found that the students taking the DBQ, which is a part of the Social Studies Assessment, they score relatively high. All that I have needed to do was to provide a framework for them to construct the essay, and then the types of activities I have done, pair/share/report, group projects of analysis on a reading followed by team reporting, have all added to the student’s ability to construct new understandings, and the depth of their responses to essay questions to weave aspects of learning, whether it is from the document in question or from other areas of the time frame, and to apply this situation to modern day life has been readily increasing.
I also make a point of having the students review, analyze, and report on skill sets neeeded in Social Studies such as map reading, time lines, graphs. They also have been required to use source material from magazines to construct their own data base, make an appropriate graph, organize the information into graphic charts and then summarize or give written analysis. This also serves them very well on state assessments. I devised much of my curriculum after doing a data and regression analysis on the results of the 5th and 8th grade social studies assessments for my district as a part of my internship. While my findings were appreciated, there has been a reticence to bring in my recommendations to the staff as a whole, but I was asked to run my class almost as a pilot program for these ideas.
I also teach ELA to one section and for the past few years my student’s scores have been very strong, and those areas where I was not happy with the results, the aggregation of data required by NCLB was an asset in helping me review my particular strengths and a few areas I wished to change my own practices in some performance indicators.
I think that teachers need to be “aware” of the tests, but to actually engage students in a learning style which is not so dominated by “teacher-centered, top-down lessons”. While there is certainly a place for a teacher centered lesson to lay certain frameworks, the students must be able to do in order for them to add flesh to the framework, and make horizontal connections in the various content areas, and vertical connections from grade to grade.
Again, the part that I feel NCLB does best is to attempt to addres the inherent differences in the education enjoyed by students within public schools between those in affluent suburban areas, and in those areas which are in poverty. Something has to be done and NCLB is leading states to become innovative with regard to attracting teachers to work in these typically hard to staff schools by initiatives such as are found in NYC and in Los Angeles.