Friday, January 12, 2007

NCLB needs change

This is a draft letter for Congress members.
Jan.11, 2007
U.S. Congress

Dear Congresswoman Matsui,

I encourage you to work for major amendments to the re authorization of the No Child Left behind law. This law is not working as it was intended. It is driving good people out of teaching.
I am a faculty member in teacher preparation at CSU-Sacramento with over 35 years of experience working in the schools. I and my colleagues have been engaged in urban school reform.
We know that students in our low performing schools have the least prepared teachers and the most out-of field teachers. Unfortunately the current NCLB act has seriously disrupted existing programs and has provided no real evidence of improving our schools. Frankly the advocates of NCLB are cooking the books and miss representing the evidence.
The current No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires that all students be proficient by 2014. But this goal can be achievable if only schools had more time to improve. A new paper by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen and Tamara Wilder of the Economic Policy Institute concludes that there is no date by which all (or even nearly all) students in any subgroup can achieve the NCLB requirement of proficiency on "challenging" standards, because no goal can simultaneously be challenging to and achievable by all students across the entire achievement distribution.
The data of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate school achievement has –at best-been stagnant for the last twenty five years. The achievement gap between mostly middle class and white students and the growing working class Latino and Black student populations, whether measured by test scores, drop out rates, or college attendance narrowed slightly in the early 1980’s, and has begun to widen to pre ESEA levels. No child left behind has not improved the schools.
Many people supported NCLB in its original draft because of its promises of school achievement. However, like the Bush Administrations failures in New Orleans and Iraq, this law and its administration fails our children. The focus on testing in the law is based upon the flawed notion that schooling can be reduced to a score on a few test.
Under the regimen of standardized testing that has come in the wake of NCLB, our schools have increasingly lost the proper balance between teaching and learning, on the one hand, and the assessment of what students have learned, on the other hand. Education has been more and more crowded out of school days turned over to test preparation, and the curriculum has narrowed significantly with less and less attention paid to the civic functions of public education system.
In Many Children Left Behind, (2004) researcher Linda Darling-Hammond says, "The biggest problem with the NCLB Act is that it mistakes measuring schools for fixing them." She illustrates ways that NCLB has forced many states to lower their standards and how it has perversely encouraged some schools to improve performance by making sure low performing students leave ( ie.Texas). Rather than lifting the performance of low achieving students, in California NCLB increased the number of dropouts and pushouts.
There are many studies of the problems associated with this legislation. If you want more information please let me know.
I request to be informed of any hearings on the bill to re-authorize NCLB. I urge you to oppose re-authorization unless there are significant modifications to the program. The single most important reform would be insist upon consultation with teachers rather than taking the advice of the numerous professional “foundations” and advocacy groups which do not work with teachers.

Dr. Duane E. Campbell

Sacrmamento, Calif.
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