Re-authorization of NCLB: Commentary by Barbara L. Minton

Re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and Its Hidden Agenda
by: Barbara L. Minton
From Natural News: The re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has become a priority for the final year of the Bush administration. The fact that independent test results have shown NCLB to be a dismal failure seems to make no difference. With a little tweaking, it must continue. As debate on this legislation heats up, a review of the issues surrounding NCLB and the agenda behind it may be in order.
NCLB is a federal law that provides money for a… Continue reading

Vygotsky’s ZPD

“How Learning Occurs” according to constructivist learning theorist Vygotsky, who described the  “zone of proximal development (ZPD)”***

Zone of Proximal Development, an idea developed by Vygotsky over one hundred years ago, falls within a socio-cultural context and seeks to define the process through which students effectively learn in cooperation with a teacher.  A student’s Zone of Proximal Development, or ZPD, is defined as the student’s range of ability with and without assistance from a teacher or a more capable peer. On one end of the range is the student’s ability level without assistance. On the other end of… Continue reading

AYP Pressure Mounts

Thursday, October 2, 2008, the Denver Post announced that only 48 of 151 Denver Public Schools schools met the adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals mandated by NCLB law.   The article went on to report that statewide only 60% of Colorada schools met their progress targets, compared with 75% that met the target goals in 2007.  The Colorado Department of Education attributed this decline to the schedule of AYP improvement that the law outlines.  According to the NCLB law, every three years the bar is raised to meet the AYP goals, which are to culminate in 100%… Continue reading

Week Seven: Time to Teach/Time to Learn Tally of Hours

September 29 – October 3, 2008:  Tally of Time for Teaching and Learning

Monday, September 29:  Uninterrupted day at school = 5 C & I hours

Tuesday, September 30: Uninterrupted day = 5 C & I hours

Wednesday, October 1:  Routine interruptions for art and gym = 3.5 C & I hours

Thursday, October 2: Scheduled interruption was a science lesson in the library, so total is = 5 C & I hours

Friday, October 3:  Specials art/gym in the morning; Hearing/vision tests in afternoon. Total = 3 C & I hours

Week’s Total C & I hours: 21.5 hours

A Special Education Assessment: Speed up Learning!

On the first day of October, I attended a meeting before school with the Special Education team to discuss the academic capabilities and needs of a boy who is in my class for the second year, now as a fifth grader.  I had been informed that this boy had scored “Unsatisfactory” on all sections of the CSAP (Colorado Student Achievement Program) tests that he took last spring, and that the Special Education staff believed he needed special help.

The boys’ mother was in attendance, but the boy was not.  There was a psychologist present along with a second… Continue reading

Assessment Blunders

Friday shortly before noon I learned from the assistant principal in charge of assessments dropped by my classroom to tell me she would need her help.  It seemed that some of the scoring sheets for the Benchmark tests of two weeks ago were missing for students in my class.  When lunchtime came, I visited her office and found her in a sea of papers paper-clipped in various bundles with notes attached.  I listened carefully as she described what was missing and tried to ignore my frustration.  Having counted and recounted each of the scoring sheets, each… Continue reading

Six students the second week after Benchmark testing

Melissa didn’t complete her math homework because she said she couldn’t “get it,” and for that matter, neither could her mother.  She did very little math during the week at school, although the math lesson on Monday had been given explicitly to prepare them to do their homework and to give them several options for math projects to work on during the school day.  When Melissa stayed in for recess Friday so that I could help her with her math homework, she understood pretty quickly and was able to complete the work mostly on her own.  I… Continue reading

Week Six: Time to Teach/Time to Learn Tally of Hours

Time to Teach/Time to Learn:  Tally of Time for Curriculum and Instruction in my Classroom

Monday, September 22:  An uninterrupted day  =  5 C & I hours

Tuesday, September 23:  Subtract 45 minutes for the Art teacher’s project (finishing the Peace Pinwheels and installing them in the grass.  Should this be called Curriculum and Instruction?  probably, but once students are outside their normal learning environment, their “time to learn” seems compromised)    4.25 hours

Wednesday, September 24:  Specials in the morning.  Week’s total = 3.5 C & I hours

Thursday,… Continue reading

Time to Learn

As I explore all the issues associated with assessments and accountabililty, I have begun to see that the time squandered is not only lost Time to Teach, but lost Time to Learn.  If I manage the time available for Curriculum and Instruction well, I can probably give adequate lessons.  I can squeeze them into every crack that appears in the routinized schedule of schoolday events.  The students, however, have very limited time to process those lessons that I give.  So often there is another activity or scheduled event that follows on the heels of the lesson,… Continue reading

THE BENCHMARK DILEMMA          September, 2008                Denison Montessori School

1. The only possible merit of all that time spent—taking and scoring benchmark tests—is the opportunity to study your own students’ responses.
We have to do some higher level thinking here, not get trapped in the myth of number-crunching.  Scores don’t matter; essays and incorrect answers might, if we take time to read them and think about them.  We might even raise test scores by directly… Continue reading