The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 has instituted curriculum standards and tracking for schools that have been repeatedly criticized for leaving their students and teachers behind. (1 point for NOT welcoming immigrants, 3 points for encouraging parents to serve as a model for their students.) The purpose of NCLB is to hold all schools accountable for their students’ performances using high-stakes testing. There are many different types of accountability devices, but it’s worth examining just how NCLB affects the districts which are most in need of federal intervention.
In New York City, for example, the Mayor spent $11 million on tutoring programs, yet only one of the 15,000 kids who attended those hours in summer of 2006 had scored proficient on the Verbal Reasoning test. Six of those students had proficient scores on the math proficiency test. The story is similar in most other cities. Los Angeles schools for example, spent $12 million during the 2006-2007 school year on a program to help students of color close the gap. About 20,000 students participated in the program. Among the most notable of those students are Cornelius White, a ninth grader who attends Lawrence Middle School in Los Angeles, and Devanee Shelton, a junior at La Mesa High School in California. Both of these students have scored well above the nation’s average in math.
In a paper published by Education Week, Professor Diana kitten explained that part of the challenge for English Language Learners (ELL) is that they have a higher rate of incorrect answers than native speakers. She further stated that according to research, the estimated rate of misspellings for ELLs is as high as 50% for reading and 50% for math homework. For both reading and math, the estimates are between 25% and 35%. The problem is further compounded by the fact that ELLs are difficult to synchronize their language with the spoken word and the goal of many English Language Learner programs is to achieve reading and math fluency.
The result is that many ELL students are faced with a large gap of failure when starting to learn English. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in states with ELL populations, the visible minority students who had not previously been in school had a higher meanersion of English proficiency scores than the Caucasian students in the same states. The concern is not just in the fact that a disproportionate number of ELL students are failing. Many are leaving high school unable to read in English and lacking the skills to apply for jobs in the labor market. Between 1992 and 2000, the number of Japanese-Americans graduating from college fell by 40%.
In some regards, multicultural diversity is what happens when you mix a bunch of people from different backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we cannot differentiate between a multicultural diversity and a diversity based on religion. After the September 11 attacks, many Muslims fear being targeted because of their Arab background. When schools fail to teach about diversity, it’s non-eventful, and unacceptable. Although NCLB shoves a bit of PC into the education of every child, it fails to give education to all children what they need to succeed in the world. We should not be teaching literacy to all children in the early years of school only. We should aim at completing the set of skills needed to succeed in reading and math to all children. We should also be teaching children to read and math in the subject, traditional ways. And finally, we need to stop teaching children to learn.
NCLB pushes teaching to the broom and sees no value in independent learning. Learners need to feel fun and rewarded during the learning process. They need their basic needs met. But they also need to learn. And they need to learn quickly and easily. Research says that most people will learn when trained.CCTV view television as a panacea for illiteracy. In 2007, 60 Minutes and Dateline broadcaster turned around their show with a documentary on the catchy word of cheating mothers. The segment exploring the high school pep rallies for top colleges included a segment with unemployed young men. Their interviewees’ parents were Federal Judges and Watergate conspirators. The Future of Freedom Foundation stated the segment accomplished more than a week of “on-the-job” job training. TheViewpoints segment and the documentaries focusing on the abuses of the overly stringent testing holds a mirror well for all of us to see and a warning for all educators to beware. What we learn from these videotaped interrogations is relevant to improving our education system and future.