Training Divide and lack of Digital Equity, a look at NCLB and the Future
As surely as the Bush administration marches in surge toward Iraq, there is also a surge toward entrenched establishment of more database mining and record keeping in the pursuit to establish even more points in the no child left behind law. NCLB and its supporters march on.
My sustained interest is as a result of being on the NIIAC, and helping to create a document that we felt shaped the use of technology in the schools with the existing tools of technology at that time.
KickStart was an initiative of the United States Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure. Created by President Clinton at the end of 1993, the 36-member Council comprised representatives of state and local government, and community, public interest, education, and labor groups–as well as creators and distributors of content, private industry, privacy and security advocates, and learning experts in NII-related fields. The reports were delivered to President Clinton on February 13, 1996, at which time NIIAC announced that it had selected the Benton Foundation to inherit the KickStart Legacy. KickStart Initiatives are community-based efforts to bring the Information Superhighway to all individuals through schools, libraries, and community centers.
The site, divided in four sections, offered guidance, ideas, tools, and real-world examples to help community leaders launch KickStart Initiatives. But that was many years ago. Sadly, lots of people are just getting to that level of technology use and learning, and meanwhile technology has moved on.
I see that many people have never reached the “Kickstart” model. I feel that the educational technology training and use have never been maximized and I am aware keenly of the digital divide as it continues to exist. A telling statistic is our huge dropout rate, and the ever growing rate of incarceration of our minority students. The US population is one third minority ( and growing)
Minority education is not at its best.
The Latino community is the largest and fastest growing minority group (42.7 million) in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Between 2004 and 2005, the population rose by 3.3% (1.9 million) and accounted for nearly half of the national population growth. African Americans are the second largest minority group (39.7 million), followed by Asians (14.4 million), American Indians/Alaska natives (4.5 million) and native Hawaiians and other Pacific islanders (990,000).
In short, one in three U.S. residents belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group, the Census Bureau reports. The nation’s minority population accounted for nearly 33% of the country’s population, and by 2050 the figure is expected to reach 40%.
“These mid-decade numbers provide further evidence of the increasing diversity of our nation’s population,” says Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. In 2005, the nation’s minority population totaled 98 million of the country’s total of 296.4 million.
Census Bureau Data
Now we have three main groups of people, the data miners and statisticians for testing who have some funding, the tech people who have been decimated by the lack of funding and the lack of interest in ETT, and the teachers , teachers in classrooms and those in training who have depending on the economic circumstances in their learning community a number of variables that weigh in on their teaching practice, the ability to teach in classrooms.
. There is also a rift between the vision of higher ed and those who want to create highly trained teachers. Some want to put the burden on the teachers colleges for better instruction, probably forgetting that there are lots of teachers who stand in classrooms and who may be there for many years. Research does not tell us what create staying power in a classrooom. The research does not tell us about the leaders in education .
Just as all of this is happening, there is a book, that is topical about teachers that has just come out.
The review of the book should give us food for thought.
Darling-Hammond, L., & Baratz-Snowden, J. (Eds.). (2005).
A Good Teacher in Every Classroom: Preparing the Highly Qualified Teachers our Children Deserve. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass ISBN 0-7879-7466-8
Here is an excerpt from the review.
The past few years have seen a marked increase in attention to the issues of teacher quality. One might argue that since the release of No Child Left Behind, the requirement to provide “highly qualified” teachers for every classroom has been the number one task to be accomplished in the field of education. At the same time, there have been many studies critiquing traditional teacher education programs for their ineffectiveness in educating “highly qualified” teachers. Under these circumstances, it is especially valuable to have research on how to improve the quality of teacher preparation and, in turn, the quality of teaching and student achievement in each classroom. A Good Teacher in Every Classroom: Preparing the Highly Qualified Teachers our Children Deserve (Darling-Hammond & Baratz-Snowden, 2005), among some others, represents a major effort to address this issue.
A Good Teacher in Every Classroom seems destined to be a highly influential. It is sponsored by the Naional Academy of Education (NAE), “a highly visible organization with an influential voice in the educational community” (Cochran-Smith, 2004, p. 111). Shortly after its publication, it was given loud applause by the National Education Association (NEA, May 24, 2005). One of the editors of the book is Linda Darling-Hammond, a well-known educational researcher from Stanford University. Darling-Hammond has served as co-chair of the NAE’s Committee on Teacher Education. The other co-editor, Joan Baratz-Snowden, is director of Educational Issues at the American Federation of Teachers. She has worked for several other educational associations as well.. A Good Teacher in Every Classroom originates from what the National Center for Alternative Certification calls “a groundbreaking new study” (NCAC, 2006), that is, Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and be Able to Do (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005).
Reviewed by Hailing Wu, Michigan Sate University.
The whole review can be accessed under Recent Reviews on the journal homepage http://edrev.asu.edu.
What about Systems and Data Modeling?
It is important to give the data-miners in education ‘s viewpoint. There is a push for national PK-12 Data Models That is to provide blueprints to move between, LEAs, State and National groups.
One way to help meet today’s information needs, the general public’s demand for accountability, and No Child Left Behind objectives is through the development of a comprehensive and dynamic common PK-12 data model. To date, the closest access to data models that many schools, districts, and state agencies have is in proprietary models developed by vendors and implemented in their software applications. Most states and school districts cannot make the necessary financial investment or do not have the technical expertise to develop such comprehensive data models.
The development of such a model must include a thorough evaluation of data needs at the classroom, local, regional, state, and federal levels. Many districts and states want to design data warehousing and data collection sites with the purpose of greater tracking of longitudinal data. They are looking for guidance on what data should be included in their systems. Without a comprehensive data model, they will continue with existing models being developed that may not meet the needs for comprehensive collections, and will not impact the educational learning environment to the greatest extent possible. These models are being constructed . See the source and three papers on this information at http://nces.ed.gov/forum/data_modeling.asp
In addition to the evolving school, district, and state accountability and data-driven decision-making systems, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) increased the demand for more immediate access to high-quality educational data at all levels of pK-12 education enterprise.
The bulk of information needed to respond to these information needs and other federal reporting requirements is initially captured in local schools and district offices to support local operations and decision-making.
A subset of this data
is then moved through state information systems to the United State Department of Education (USED).The dependence of federal, state, and local decision makers on the quality and availability of education data has never been higher.
A comprehensive data model, made available as soon as possible, would provide substantial support for current state and local data system developments.
The development of such a model should include a thorough evaluation of data needs at the local, regional, state, and federal levels.
Many districts and states want to design data warehousing and data collection sites with the purpose of greater tracking of crossectional and longitudinal data and many of them face challenges in designing a comprehensive data model, and others
don’t have sufficient resources to do so.
Making a comprehensive pK-12 data model available to the education community, would save some states and districts time and resource, allow
those with limited resources have access to a data model, and by providing a comprehensive menu of data options, would facilitate discussion at all administrative levels as to what should be included or excluded in a particular data system to be revamped or developed. To fulfill these goals, the comprehensive pK-12 data model must address data needs of key local stakeholders, including teachers, schools, and districts.
A picture of the pK-12 environment would not only facilitate the visualization of data transfer between applications within schools, but also conceptualize how to streamline reporting from the school to district, to regional, state, and ultimately, in a narrower content, to the federal level. In addition, his data model would facilitate the development of applications designed to provide administrators and educators with the tools they need to collect and analyze student learning and achievement, as well as other factors affecting them.
Summary benefits of a comprehensive pK-12 data model:
• A full model WILL provide the core data structures to allow systems to be made operational.
• A fll model WILL provide the core data structures needed for the shared federal data reporting burden to be addressed.
• A full model WILL provide a common vocabulary and framework for entities to have shared conversaions about curriculum, data exchange, and standards.
• A full model WILL provide guidance on how data on classroom activities and programs relate to other components of the data system. This is an area of critical need in promoting effective decision-making regarding student learning and achievement.
A Comprehensive PK-12 Data Model: Summary for NCES (PDF File 133KB)
To make all of this even more interesting is the fact that there are other schools of thought that are looking toward the limited funding sources of the Congress
What Should Drive the Curriculum?
Is Testing Driving the Curriculum?
Here is a cameo.
No Child Left Behind: Testing, Reporting, and Accountability
In a major expansion of the federal role in education, the NoChild Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) requires annual testing, specifies a method for judging school effectiveness, sets a timeline forprogress, and establishes specific consequences in the case of failure. As the use of standardized testing to measure school accountability has expanded, so has the list of arguments for excusing the low achievement of whole categories of students. While special education law provides for testing with “accommodations,” in practice it has pushed educators to focus more on procedural compliance. The achievement of language-minority students has often been overlooked or mismeasured as school districts lacked the skill or will to administer appropriate assessments.
Testing and reporting requirements operate with respect to different groups of students and examines factors that could delay or dilute the guarantee of educational accountability in the academic achievement of all children.
Different States, Different Tests
Although the Act mandates annual testing for all states by 2005-2006, it does not provide federal standards for testing practices. Left to their own discretion, states have created a broad array of approaches. Some states test reading and math every year; others test those subjects at three or four-year intervals, and others test a variety of subjects in a variety of grades.
It has been a steep learning curve for the states.
One critical difference in testing practices is whether states use norm-referenced or criterion-referenced tests. Norm-referenced tests assess a student’s broad knowledge, measuring performance against a relevant comparison group. Criterion-referenced tests measure specific skills in relation to pre-established standards of academic performance. Advocates of standards-based reform prefer criterion-referenced tests because they can be directly aligned to a given state’s standards. However, because they are generally individually designed for each state, they are far more expensive to create and produce results that are more difficult to compare.
Testing, according to teachers in the field drives the curriculum and the time clock in teaching and learning.
What about Time? In 1994 the Prisoners of Time Report ( Prior to NCLB) made this remark..
Time is the missing element in our great national debate about learning and the need for higher standards for all students. Our schools and the people involved with them-students, teachers, administrators, parents, and staff-are prisoners of time, captives of the school clock and calendar. We have been asking the impossible of our students-that they learn as much as their foreign peers while spending only half as much time in core academic subjects. The reform movement of the last decade is destined to founder unless it is harnessed to more time for learning.
Decades of school improvement efforts have foundered on a fundamental design flaw, the assumption that learning can be doled out by the clock and defined by the calendar. Research confirms common sense. Some students take three to six times longer than others to learn the same thing. Yet students are caught in a time trap-processed on an assembly line scheduled to the minute. Our usage of time virtually assures the failure of many students.
Under today’s practices, high-ability students are forced to spend more time than they need on a curriculum developed for students of moderate ability. Many become bored, unmotivated, and frustrated. They become prisoners of time.
Struggling students are forced to move with the class and receive less time than they need to master the material. They are penalized with poor grades. They are pushed on to the next task before they are ready. They fall further and further behind and begin living with a powerful dynamic of school failure that is reinforced as long as they remain enrolled or until they drop out. They also become prisoners of time.
What of “average” students? They get caught in the time trap as well. Conscientious teachers discover that the effort to motivate the most capable and help those in difficulty robs them of time for the rest of the class. Typical students are prisoners of time too.
The paradox is that the more the school tries to be fair in allocating time, the more unfair the consequences. Providing equal time for students who need more time guarantees unequal results. If we genuinely intend to give every student an equal opportunity to reach high academic standards, we must understand that some students will require unequal amounts of time, i.e., they will need additional time.
One response to the difficulty of juggling limited time to meet special needs has been the development of “pull-out programs,” in which students needing reinforcement or more advanced work are “pulled out” of the regular classroom for supplemental work. Attractive in theory, these programs, in practice, replace regular classroom time in the same subject. They add little additional time for learning. Students deserve an education that matches their needs every hour of the school day, not just an hour or two a week. Pull-out programs are a poor part-time solution to a serious full-time problem.
I am sure you understand that there are even more demands on time since the inception of No Child Left Behind, this has resulted in less playground time, shorter lunches, and in some cases the elimination of physical education and enrichment subjects like science, and the humanities. Further some children’s exposure to technology has been test practicing on the computer, if a computer was available. Or use of technology to improve test taking skills. Surely not what we had in mind in framing the use of technology for the USA.
While the Bush administration touted the merits of No Child Left Behind on its fifth anniversary Monday, national and local educators called for changes in what they say is a flawed law.
No Child Left Behind won bipartisan backing when Congress passed it in 2002, and it’s up for renewal this year.
The main goal is to have all students perform at grade level in reading and math by 2014.
That’s admirable, educators say, but difficult to accomplish when financial constraints, uneven interpretations and an overemphasis on testing come with the package.
“There are too many people and too many school systems that are labeled as failing,” National Education Association President Reg Weaver said in a nationally televised speech from Cleveland.
Instead of widespread sanctions, “let’s figure out what’s wrong and how we can help these people.”
Schools that get federal aid but do not make enough progress must provide tutoring, allow students to transfer or initiate other reforms such as changing the staff.
The law’s financial impact has been hard to quantify, but the cost includes teacher training, new textbooks and additional staffing. High-poverty districts like Cleveland, where many children are ill-prepared for school and lack family support, are especially challenged by the law’s demands.
“Given the right resources, all problems can be adequately addressed,” Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders said. “But to expect a level of achievement to occur given that level of inequity. . . ?
“They basically say to you, ‘Make it work,’ but they don’t give you the resources needed to make it work.”
Have your say!!!
We as teachers need to make our voices heard on this law. The people who are deciding may have vested interests, and a lack of knowledge of the classroom as it really is.
We must write letters to the Senators who are helping to make the changes. Senators Snowe, Rockefeller and Kennedy
One teacher’s opinion..
Patti Picard, curriculum director for Hudson schools in Summit County Ohio, sees value in the law’s clear standards, which have helped school districts set academic priorities, she said.
At the same time, such a strong emphasis on standardized testing is disconcerting, she added.
“When something like No Child Left Behind focuses so closely on a test score, it does affect the kind of teaching that you do,” Picard said. “It becomes kind of a forced march.”
She hopes legislators listen to the people who best know the challenges of teaching youngsters. Otherwise, she said, “I’m afraid that we’re going to create a culture of people who have lost their zest for love of learning.”
Your views pro or con are important to the congress, but write to them now. It is imperative.
Bonnie Bracey Sutton
bbracey at aol com