What should replace NCLB???

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aliceacc, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2009

    Since the NCLB thread is already on page 7, I thought I would start a new thread.

    Lots and lots of teachers passionately hate NCLB. Yet I have yet to see a single concrete alternative.

    I'll readily admit that I don't have the answers. Maybe I'm not smart enough or experienced enough. I do have some suggestions, but no one overreaching way to fix American education.

    Something that would replace or fix the bad teachers, while not imposing on the good ones.

    Something that would help those in the inner cities, the 'burbs, the rural areas.

    Something that will get the bad teachers out of the classroom without having the good teachers feel as though they're under a microscope.

    Something that would keep the costs manageable.

    Something that will ensure that kids don't fall through the cracks.

    Something that will keep kids in school long enough to receive the education they deserve (and allow their parents to work) yet still leave them enough time in the day to be kids.

    Something that would push all kids to achieve all they can without pushing any individual to achieve something he's not capable of.

    Something that would teach kids the basics while keeping an eye on this everchanging globe.

    Something that would ensure that kids know what they've been taught yet not have teachers teaching to the test.

    Something that will prepare kids in the same homeroom for college, for a career in the military, for an immediate start in the workforce, to work on the family farm and for life as a SAHM.

    I could go on and on. You get my point.


    You guys try. How do we fix American education??? No generalities, and no "don't do this" kind of answers: What should replace NCLB that will cover all the points I just mentioned as well as those I left out? Give me the legislation I should forward to Congress.
     
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  3. Arky

    Arky Comrade

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    One thing that I have thought always should be done is for the principal or maybe an administrator that is hired to do only this go in and out of classrooms all the time. It should be her main priority. She should have a simple checklist. Teaching, not teaching because every teacher has moments where she is not teaching. If she goes into a classroom often and finds a teaching not teaching, talk to her, not everyone else that is teaching. Also, look at her test scores every year. If they are pretty good, continue to go in and out of her room but leave her alone with her teaching style because it is working. If I knew my principal was going to be coming in and out all the time I would get use to it and I would be teaching often. If someone wasn't you have documentation to start procedures to fire her. I think this would cover everything above. If a teacher is teacher the majority of the time, kids will learn.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, great. Good start. And I can see what you're going for.

    But how do you define "teaching"?

    If I'm walking around the room as my kids are doing the problems on the board, am I teaching? How about if I'm standing there, waiting for them to finish the same problems?

    Maybe we can make it more general-- something "academic" (whatever that means) must be taking place in the room a certain percentage of the time. ( I would imagine that, the older the kids, the higher the percentage, right? or not?? Should it be a straight 95% of the time??)
     
  5. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Maybe we should try to get the union involved too. Have the union and administration come up with a checklist in our contract that we must follow as a "good teacher". I have found in my experience that our union tends to protect those teachers who are not teaching.
    So...a certain percentage would be a great start. And instead of looking at test scores-since my kids are totally tested out and do not put forth their best effort-a checklist,similar to a value added idea, that shows each child's progress. Maybe having more assessments in the year rather than just ONE test at the end? (at least that is how it is in my district).
    Just thinking...Of course, I do not have the answers either. I am tired of the state NOT really seeing what my kids can and cannot do according to a test.
    (as a person who suffered from severe test anxiety, I can relate!)
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2009

    OK, realize I'm absolutely playing Devil's Advocate here, OK? Because if we ever want to present any ideas, they've got to be workable.

    How do you measure a child's progress on a regular basis without testing him or her to death? We can't go by teacher's gut evaluations. They're too subjective. So it's got to be something that originates somewhere beyond that particular classroom. (Otherwise, the bad teachers will still proclaim that their kids are learning when they're not.)

    So what objective measure do we use to gauge learning if not a standardized test? And if we don't just want one big test at the end of the year, how is it different from what we're dealing with now?

    Laura, could you explain to me what you mean by the value-added checklist?
     
  7. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    You would still have to define teaching or come up with some way to make this person highly qualified to judge that because otherwise you are going to have good old boy networks going on. It's a good idea but it's like ineffective admin., you can't legislate good admin.
     
  8. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    NCLB has effectively left most students in special education behind. The majority of students participate in special education because they are several grade levels behind their peers. Not only that, but disabilities are not a child's fault. Therefore, we have kids working at the second grade level having to be taught things at their grade level, and it flies way above their head. All of the special ed. teachers I've known said that since NCLB they don't feel like they are getting enough done. According to NCLB, a teacher would have to get a comatose student to read. Hm....
     
  9. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Great topic, I'll have to find some time to work on this.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK-- that's identifying a problem.

    But how do we fix it?
     
  11. Arky

    Arky Comrade

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    The reason I added "sometimes not teaching" is because I believe there are moments when you are not teaching. Teaching to me is when you are envolved with the children is some manner, direct teaching is easy to see, small group is easy to see, TV with cartoons on is easy to see not teaching. Children engaged in an assignment is teaching to me or learnig is taking place. BUT...i would expect the principal to go around and see what the children are engaged in. Ask the kids a few questions. The reason I added test scores is because we are tested in 3rd grade 14 times before the Benchmark in the spirng. They look at our test scores often.
     
  12. Securis

    Securis Cohort

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    What does learning look like in a classroom? Students are engaged. An assignment may by very structured and highly guided where the teacher and assistant teacher are actively involved up front with explanations and demonstrations. An assignment based on the same skills presented later might be less structured and nearly unguided with the teacher and assistant teacher providing some guidance and prompts to remain on task. One is active, on the teacher's part, and the other is passive. I think both are great teaching strategies and I use both in regards to my class. If I get an evaluation while I am active, appearances are that I am teaching. If I get an evaluation while I am passively monitoring students, it might appear that I am not teaching, especially if I undertake a third option that I often use; modeling the assignment.

    Those are some random thoughts about teaching and what I think it is.

    Accountability is what we're talking about here. There are three entities that any plan should take into account. Teachers, because we're "in charge". Students, because they are supposed to be learning to be "responsible". Parents, because they are "responsible". Those words in quotes denote an ideal and not necessarily a reality.

    Holding teachers accountable is great. Rather than using student progress, which, honestly, does not represent the amount of effort a teacher makes to impart his or her subject, a teacher should be judged by standards created and administered by other teachers. Peer accountability with principal, superintendent, and even school board oversight is what I am suggesting. In the main, a cross-reference of several timely evaluations would provide a clearer picture of a teacher's ability to teach and it spreads out the responsibility for getting it done. Enough evaluations showing that a teacher is not making personal growth might mean a smaller paycheck and even dismissal. Ideally, those not being rewarded for poor effort will move on. At this point though, the need for bodies in classrooms watching students is very high, especially in economically depressed areas. Good teacher, bad teacher, students are monitored. That's bad but it's reality.

    Another thought, we, as teachers hail from a variety of schools and universities in order to arrive at the classroom with our credentials. Maybe a monitoring system provided at that level for a longer period of time before certification is offered. Five years as a probationary teacher with supervision and support from the University of origin might cull or correct poor teachers before offering full certification.

    Students? How does one hold them responsible? They are children and not known to be reliable in this area. Still, herein lies the most significant problem. Students who are invested in their future will learn best. What the heck does that mean? I'm not sure. Learning should be fun. Again, some specifics here would help me in my classroom. Getting students invested is key and I can think of some liberal ways to do this. Concrete rewards might be a way to offer them incentive. I believe that students as early as upper elementary are complex enough to understand money as a way of self gratification and possibly as a future reward. Maybe not in long term ways, I don't know. Maybe students should be paid for excelling. Maybe not directly but in the form of a trust that matures as they leave the educational setting. The question of funding rises but you want suggestions. Also, questions of fraud rise to mind.

    Parents? The most powerful entity in the whole scheme of things. Ever heard of the National Guard? I believe that most parents sincerely care about their child's learning. Not all but most. I think that if a parent could take a more active role in the school setting, then their child might find it in themselves to be more responsible about their learning. I mentioned the National Guard because this group is given dispensation from their employment to do service for the country. Isn't it true that educating the nation's youth is a service to the country? Parents would have an avenue to help without loosing their primary employment and get paid while being provided access to their child's future success. Another avenue would be to offer a tax credit to parents whose children excel. Again funding, where is the money coming from.

    Something that I think would lead to better results for students is smaller class size and smaller student loads for teachers. If I had less students to account for, I could in turn provide a more personalized effort for each student. That means more teachers and para-professionals. Teachers need to be highly qualified to justify the generous amount of pay they receive. I'd like to have an assistant or a team-teacher in my room to aid in taking care deficiencies or even better to add extras to the environment.

    Alright, I think I am done with my free range thinking spree.
     
  13. MuggleBug

    MuggleBug Companion

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    Jan 11, 2009

    I don't have much to add, but I think one huge benefit would be using alternative assessments. You can't tell me those standardized tests accurately measure every students' ability. I can't tell you how many of my Title I students are in my class because they "hate CMTs (CT Mastery Test)" and "don't even try" because they just "want to get it done." When I was interning I remember sitting with a 5th grader in the nurse's office who was hysterical crying and vomiting because she was so stressed out about taking the test. You can't tell me that she did her absolute best when she was under that duress.

    On a test they might ask a student to describe the life cycle of a frog, for example. In essay form, some students may write a few sentences that are missing components and maybe don't make a lot of sense. But you ask those same kids to DRAW the life cycle...or ACT IT OUT...and they can nail it. It doesn't mean they don't know the material. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, and I don't have any easy solution, but that would be one component of revising NCLB that I would concentrate on.
     
  14. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Whoops, I didn't complete my thought...I completed it in my head but apparently not here!

    I think we need to test students on their growth, for example, a student who is below grade level may begin the year at the second grade reading level but end at the third. That is growth. If the student is still on the same level at the end of the school year or the next school year, that isn't growth. We do need high expectations, but we also don't need vegetative students to learn how to read at grade level! I know they say tracks aren't a good idea, but I just think they aren't positive enough. It may be a good idea to assign tracks and assess students at the level they are in. For example, a special ed. student would do an alternate assessment, a basic student would do a basic assessment, etc.
     
  15. Arky

    Arky Comrade

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    Amen MuggleBug! I don't have an answer to this problem , but I know the tests do not show the true ability of many of my students and I feel so sorry for them and the pressure that is being put on 3RD GRADERS!!
     
  16. Go 4th

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    I agree Muggle. GA has CRCT given in April. Three days of testing. One math, one reading, one LA. How can you accurately portray a student's ability based on one single solitary day? I would prefer maybe breaking the test down into sections or quarters. Smaller parts of the whole. Give it several times thru out the year and combine the scores.
     
  17. MuggleBug

    MuggleBug Companion

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    Our CMT tests last for 2 weeks...usually 1 test/day. You can't tell me by the end of those 2 weeks those kids aren't sick to death of testing and that they are still putting their best effort into it.
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Great idea for a thread Alice! Some of my thoughts (and I'm sorry if they repeat what others have said) are:

    *First, districts should not look at JUST standardized testing scores to base renewing contracts of teachers. We all know that a teacher can be the best teacher in the school, but have a class of students who aren't working on grade level, won't try for anything, don't have support at home, [insert whatever here], and don't do well on those tests. Should this teacher be fired because of the test scores? I don't think so.

    *Second, I don't think ONE formal evaluation should be used to determine renewals. We all know we have bad days in the classroom. If the evaluation falls on a bad day, should that teacher (who might be a great teacher!) be non-renewed based on one bad day? I don't think so. I like the idea of having a principal come in at different times, different days to evaluate the teachers.

    *Third, instead of standardized testing, I think a portfolio assessment in each subject area would be a better solution. The students would be able to choose (younger students would be assisted by the teacher) which pieces from the year showed they mastered each standard. Maybe schools could have a panel of unbiased admins/teachers to evaluate their portfolio based on a checklist.
     
  19. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    The only way a school works well is if teachers,administrators,students and parents work together to ensure a child learns to their ability.Shouldn't we use a portfolio of the child's work from beginning to end to monitor their progress. The principals job should be their as a facilitator of learning.not to walk around to catch the teacher doing something wrong,but to see how they can help the teacher become a better teacher and to encourage teacher's to share ideas that work in their classroom.Discipline must be maintained,so all teachers are allowed to teach. A discipline code must be set up and strictly enforced. Parents must be notified of the consequences for misbehavior and it must be carried out.Rewards should be given to the children who follow the rules and complete their assignments.Tests should be used as diagnostic tools to follow the progress made by the student,but should certainly not be used as the sole determining factor to judge teachers,students,principals.schools and probably the success of the family pet.
    Not every child is college bound material. Starting in middle school programs should be set up to ensure that children will have a career once they leave school and will not give up because they are too far behind to handle work that seems meaningless to them.Teach children to be good mechanics,plumbers or nurses or technicians or computer experts or things they can show progress in.
    I know this is going to create controversy,but hold parents accountable for their children's effort and behavior in school.Notify them what their child is doing well and not so well and keep in touch with those parents whose children need to improve to make them aware what is going on.
    Right now the only thing anyone cares about in my school is the child's test scores on a test where children are timed differently,the smarter you are the less time you are given,no one understand the scoring,only one of two or three parts is machine scored the rest is based in many cases on the scorers judgement,and the tests get easier every year so the politicians can brag how great their schools are.
    Right now everyone in our school system is being cheated,especially the children!
     
  20. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    :whistle::help:The only way a school works well is if teachers,administrators,students and parents work together to ensure a child learns to their ability.Shouldn't we use a portfolio of the child's work from beginning to end to monitor their progress. The principals job should be their as a facilitator of learning.not to walk around to catch the teacher doing something wrong,but to see how they can help the teacher become a better teacher and to encourage teacher's to share ideas that work in their classroom.Discipline must be maintained,so all teachers are allowed to teach. A discipline code must be set up and strictly enforced. Parents must be notified of the consequences for misbehavior and it must be carried out.Rewards should be given to the children who follow the rules and complete their assignments.Tests should be used as diagnostic tools to follow the progress made by the student,but should certainly not be used as the sole determining factor to judge teachers,students,principals.schools and probably the success of the family pet.
    Not every child is college bound material. Starting in middle school programs should be set up to ensure that children will have a career once they leave school and will not give up because they are too far behind to handle work that seems meaningless to them.Teach children to be good mechanics,plumbers or nurses or technicians or computer experts or things they can show progress in.
    I know this is going to create controversy,but hold parents accountable for their children's effort and behavior in school.Notify them what their child is doing well and not so well and keep in touch with those parents whose children need to improve to make them aware what is going on.
    Right now the only thing anyone cares about in my school is the child's test scores on a test where children are timed differently,the smarter you are the less time you are given,no one understand the scoring,only one of two or three parts is machine scored the rest is based in many cases on the scorers judgement,and the tests get easier every year so the politicians can brag how great their schools are.
    Right now everyone in our school system is being cheated,especially the children!
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Interesting discussion. I'm going to be a fly on the wall for a while longer.
     
  22. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    My plan to fix NCLB? Leave schools up to good old American ingenuity, and Step 1 of that process is to get them out of government control. Let any average Joe start up a school, just like a business. We'll see a lot more cost control, more focus on results, and less government meddling, paperwork, and the list goes on and on.
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    If you did that, it wouldn't be free. Where would they get the money. Any time tax dollars are involved, the government is involved. Plus, as a mobile society we need to start thinking in a more standardized way (within reason). I'm not advocating a heavy load of standardized test but I am supporting a more standardized curriculum (again, within reason).

    I will also go as far as to say that many government laws PROTECT children. We may not always implement them correctly but without them, students wouldn't get these rights at all. I'm all for IEPs, for example. I recognize their value. If the government wasn't involved with making ADA type laws to begin with, I promise, students with disabilities would have little or no rights. People, especially businesses, sometimes have to be forced to see the human value in things. This comes from perhaps my cynical view of my own lot in life but experience is a good teacher. Many laws are there for protection.
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Don't misunderstand. I really do get why you would make that suggestion. There are tons of areas we could be saving if we just thought like a business.
     
  25. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Someone here mentioned discipline, and I'd like to second that. I think schools are far too easy on disruptive kids. I know, I know - many of them come from disadvantaged situations, but I've known kids in my affluent HS whose only reason to come to school is to socialize, disrupt learning for everyone else, and maybe deal a little weed on the side. If it were up to me, you'd get one freebie, and then you'd be out to an alternative school.

    As far as assessment goes, I agree that standardized testing is practically useless. My seniors don't get tested (one reason that I enjoy teaching this grade) but I usually have to proctor testing for one of the other grades. Every year I see kids who just plain refuse to try - they'll bubble things in at random and then put their heads down on the desk. When these kids get out into the real world, they're going to need to know how to solve problems, and that's how I think they should be assessed - give them some kind of task that draws on several areas of learning; maybe even put them in small teams. No single right answer would be required - just a workable solution. Of course, this would be much more complicated to score, so I'm sure we'll be stuck with scantron tests for a good long time.
     
  26. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It's funny that you should mention that. We switched to a computer based testing this year. 2/3 of the class didn't bother to try. How do we know? They finished 50 reading passages/questions in 5-10 minutes OR LESS. We couldn't convince them to slow down and try.
     
  27. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I agree that student portfolio's should be examined as well as test scores and scores from periodic walk-throughs. It would be much more costly than just testing, but it would give a much more accurate picture of a teacher's ability. Our administrators once had to walk around with palm pilots and answer questions in certain areas - are students engaged, what kind of work are they doing-listening to teacher lecture, paper/pencil, etc. If every time they walked in the kids were doing the same kind of activity-then the teacher isn't varying styles enough and that was addressed. Of course, it only lasted one semester. But that data could easily be crunched.

    I don't think the funding should be tied solely to test scores. I think that's a big problem with the existing legislation. Schools in lower economic areas struggle with some issues more than schools in higher economic areas (on average). Those schools should not lose funding because they couldn't overcome all those obstacles which is the way it stands now-then they have less resources-how do they improve?

    Creativity has to be part of the assessment, right now its' just gone out the window. We give a writing part of our TAKS test in 4th Grade - typically 90% of the kids will write the same answer to a practice ?. Write about a time you learned something - almost all the kids write about the time they learned to ride a bike. Kids aren't being taught to think outside the box anymore-only which box to bubble in-because of the emphasis on those test scores.

    One last thing - think about the early childhood kids in this new design. I think it's just ridiculous that 5-year olds have to bubble in tests. That test anxiety starts that early. There has to be a more age-appropriate assessment that could be given (if it's oral, yes you would have to trust teachers to be honest) - but I think you would get a more accurate picture of what is truly being learned.
     
  28. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I hate reading text from a computer screen!

    If an email is more than 2 paragraphs or so, I print it up and read it. Likewise, any post that doesn't put spaces between the paragraphs is one I skip... it's just too hard to read.
     
  29. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I browse the net a lot but if you knew how much paper I waste, you would know I agree with you. :) Having said that, I am taking the computer based praxis. I like typing my answers. I automatic scoring. I like one question at a time.
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    People do better on the standardized tests when they ARE taught to think outside the box.
     
  31. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Sure! Imagine a checklist where the standards are listed according to grade level. The students are evaluated at the beginning of school in the overall standards.(think pretest) We record that data. Every nine weeks, we give a "short cycle" assessment on the standards we have covered. This data is recorded, and the process is repeated every quarter. At the end of the year, a post test is given,and results are evaluated to see if adequate progress has been made.
    Yes, it means more testing, but not the long, two and half hour testing our kids in Ohio are made to do. It might be less pressure to "perform" if a smaller assessment is given every nine weeks, rather than one week in April.
    As I said, I wish I had the answers! I'd be rich!!! I guess my thought is: it is better to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.
     
  32. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Yank,
    I personally love the portfolio type of assessment. I wish our district would consider that type of assessment. It would show a student's progress far better than a test.
     
  33. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    How are private schools monitored, if at all? Couldn't public schools move more towards that? I know private schools don't do the state testing that public schools do, and they seem to do just fine with their students (most do anyway).
     
  34. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Do they? Do all of them accept students with a wide range of disabilities? Do they accept people who live in poverty? As far as I was aware, it was either based on your ability to pay or your ability to pass a screening to get in the school. (I know not all private schools are quite this cutthroat). Last I checked, they aren't free. They earn the right to be free from a lot of government regulations because they don't get the money from the government. They get it from the parents. Can all parents afford that? I do admit that they have a more business minded approach. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is just as mismanaged as all the mess that happens in Public schools.

    The bottom line folks is dedicated passionate team-work oriented professionals working in the schools. You can't legislate that.
     
  35. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jan 11, 2009

    I know they rely on tuition. I was talking about how they evaluate the students and maybe teachers. I know I've read on here from teachers that teach in the private sector that students are assessed using a portfolio system.
     
  36. MsMongoose

    MsMongoose Companion

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    Jan 12, 2009

    Better than NCLB--

    Evaluate, but be less rigid and less punitive. There should be a limit (a low limit) on how many standardized tests elementary kids have to take.

    Experienced teachers w/ demonstrated expertise should teach in school w/ large number of high-risk students. It may take extra $ or extra perks to get them there, but it is where they are needed. Early elementary teachers in difficult school (at least) should have a half-time aide, so that the teacher can work w/ students individually or in small groups.

    Firing bad teachers--there are not many of them, but it has to be able to be done. I don't know how to make it fair, but when parents, other teachers, students and the principal (under his breath) all complain about one teacher...

    Schools should get credit for teaching all of the students, including the students who already have than the minimum proficiency.

    State-wide specialist to travel to different schools to evaluate learning situations--someone outside of the "old-boy's network" (old-gal's network also). One specialist picked up that the "developmentally disabled" and "behavior problem" boy in kindergarten was actually stone deaf (and quite bright). He had been picking up on clues as to what to do, and following the other students, but he "didn't understand" what people told him!

    Appropriate use of computers--there are a lot of things a computer can't do, but it can do a few things very well.
     
  37. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jan 12, 2009

    Computers can be used to create adaptive tests which are more difficult to "technique" and which are far shorter to take (even while giving similar diagnostic quality). They can also give instant feedback on correct or incorrect answers, and should be used for training where answers are simple and clearly correct or incorrect.

    I'm not sure how expensive these are, and whether they can be done on a district level or not. It may need to be a state or national level. If it were nationally commissioned, I'd suggest states have the option of buying in/opting out.

    Video cameras in school classrooms, used frequently for training purposes, but also in cases of disciplinary/other issues. Teachers should be able to review hours and hours of good and bad teaching methods and styles at will.

    Tie certain real-world privileges to school performance or effort, such as conditioning the right to get a driver's learners permit or license for minors on school performance.

    The image of teachers as a profession needs to be improved. Part of this probably involves better pay for teachers, though ideally public perception needs to be changed.
     

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