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Rachel Ramirez — 30 November 2011, 04:20
Hello, I am writing this post as advocacy work for my policy solution for my college Political Science class. My policy issue is curriculum and teaching in K-12 education and below is my policy solution.
When approaching issues that have to do with standardized testing and the No Child Left Behind policy, I believe that areas of the Policy that need to be reevaluated are the actual structure of the tests, the determination of curriculum, who oversees each school’s progress and equal treatment of the diverse schools.
To begin, I think that many decisions that are being made by the federal government in overseeing the school’s progress and the curriculum set for the standards need to be moved to a state, or even local school districts, level. We need people from those communities going in and evaluating the schools in their region based on standards set in those areas. There are many differences between schools that grouping them all together is practically impossible. Schools in areas that are of lower income regions are not going to have as many high quality teachers, resources, and ideal class sizes to always reach the standards placed by the federal government under the NCLB policy. Regional standards will allow for realistic goals for the schools in that area and less chances of schools going into Program Improvement and becoming even lower quality schools. When schools are in Program Improvement, it is no longer the teachers who are in control of teaching the students and when you eliminate teacher control the quality of the education automatically decreases. Teachers have a right to have a say in how they are going to teacher their students.
Concerning the tests themselves, there needs to be a complete breakdown of how the tests are set up and how they are administered. Many children nowadays do now care much about the standardized tests; it is a reality that many schools have to face. This is because students do not feel like they have to worry about a test that does not directly affect their grades or ability to graduate high school like Finals or the Exit Exam would. New innovations in how these tests could be emphasized in a classroom and administered could cause more interest in the students to do better. I think that instead of having a classroom where the teacher is focused on “teaching the test”, the students need to be engaged more in the curriculum they are taught. This can be done by slow pace learning, teachers shouldn’t need to teach all the standards in time for the test, but instead build a curriculum that gives the student a well-rounded amount of time to learn the material. Another innovation could be how the students take the test.
As the times change, students are more interested in material that they can easily relate to. An idea that I think may seem a bit strange but might work would be a group type of standardized test. Each student would still need to take a test individually, but if the students were able to work together to work through some scenarios and equations then it would better stimulate the purpose of finding out what the progress of the school is as a whole, as asked in the NCLB policy. Group tests not only force the student to collaborate together to reach a certain goal, but it also allows the students to work together to make connections between the things they have learned and their world around them, instead of the majority of students giving up on the tests because they couldn’t remember what year World War II started.
To finish off, it would beneficial to have a better system in how schools are judged my progress. As I stated before, if the overseeing was done at the local school district level then better evaluations would be make on how to improve the schools but also it would allow for better understanding of realistic goals. If the schools had different levels of testing where they could start, then they can have their own individual “ladders” to work up to reach an overall goal set for all the schools in that district. This will allow for better treatment of schools who might progress as fast as others and they will still receive the funding they need.