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sg1 poke

No Child Left Behind--feh!

Here's another quiz snurched from CKO. It was cute if overwrought.

The Fairy Princess

You are youthful, cheery, and exuberant with a
sunny disposition and a mischievous sense of
humor. You are very lively and are always up
for a good bit of fun. You have a deep love of
nature and animals.

Role Model: Titania

You are most likely to: Convert a pumpkin into a
useful mode of transportation.

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

This post is my quarterly rant about NCLB -- the silliest thing to hit Montgomery County.

My school system has decided to change the way it grades kids into an all or nothing proposition. Now that sounds great on paper--we are going to grade kids only on what they produce measured by county-wide tests on every unit. The lowest grade you can get is a 50 out of 100 which is an F (or E in our county because we don't want to traumatize poor souls). Homework doesn't count only it does. No more consideration of class participation or effort. Sounds fair? It equalizes out the good and bad schools in the county--those with money vs. those without. those with parents who work with their kids and those with immigrant parents who can't due to language or work. BUT, the way it is implemented is just unfair.

There is no more weighting of grades. So those homework grades are practically equivalent of quiz grades. A child is not measured overtly because the teachers are no longer allowed to add points for children who show they know the work through oral presentation but might be having trouble with organization skills thus failing to turn in work or realize that they have to make up work they miss through absences. Yes, I'm speaking of my children. There is no leaway for a new middle schooler in GT classes who hasn't gotten the knack of organizing herself--you flunk if you don't turn in work--period. So now daughter is afraid to ask for help.

Yes, I'm considering testing for ADD because older daughter has it and younger one shows the same lack of impulse control and the anxiety caused by a school system that has decided it will only offer round holes. If it is determined that H has ADD I can get a 504 plan that does provide the support of reminders, notes, and smaller chunks of instructions. So why isn't this the way that school is taught? Children grow at different speeds. Some need more support than others. Mine seem to need personal attention -- some sort of reminder system because simply assuming that in the chaos of beginning of class that they have the ability to write down assignments, hand in their homework, and get ready for learning all at the same time isn't working. AND 4 minutes between class equals forgotten books and hasty collecting of materials. Some kids thrive on this but mine don't. They get anxious and scared and then stop asking for help. I can see it coming.

Older daughter seems to be pulling herself together, finally. We have the support of 504 plans that allow us to push the school system--such as the ability to choose teachers based on their ability to empathize and support those kids like mine who need something extra to produce. L thrives on the classes that allow her to express herself in many different ways. She is finally successful most of the time (we still have missing homework assignments but fewer). H is beginning and fumbling but there is no leway for fumbling. All or nothing doesn't work.

End of rant. I know there are lots of teachers on my flist. What is your take on NCLB. Am I being unfair or too easy on my girls?


Not a teacher here, but I feel your pain. Ever since NCLB passed, I've been deliriously happy that it occurred after I left high school.

As it was, I was in OK during the time they decided to use Outcome Based Education --- aka, you can't leave a subject matter until everyone in the class passes the material. Which for most of my classes was fine since I got into honors, but I was a bit behind for my math due to moving and stuff, so I was in normal algebraI --- during the first 9 weeks, all we covered was CH1 of What is A Variable? Since I'd passed the first time around, I got to help teach everyone else and my aprents had to fight like mad to get the school to agree to have the teacher teach me at a different speed through short tutoring sessions.

NCLB seems to be similar, except worse w/ what you describe of not factoring in participation and not giving any individual help. I hope you manage to get the help your youngest seems to need.
Oh man I would have pulled all my hair out if I had to wait for the rest of the class to pass something before going on to the next subject. Ergh! Why does the majority have to rule when it comes to curriculum and grading policies? It leads to weird stuff like the Kansas science curriculum decisions and what you describe during your high school.

Thanks for the well wishes. H is bright and highly motivated/competitive and she will thrive. We just have to give her the tools and make sure that the system doesn't impeed her too much.
I haven't run into what you describe (yet), but I've fought my own battles with the school system to get M the attention he needed. I ultimately ended up going outside the school and spending a bucketload of $$ to Huntington Learning Center. As it turns out, it was money very well spent, but it still galls me that I had to do it. I mean, what about those children like M whose parents don't have that option??? The system is failing when it leaves it up to outsiders to teach what kids should be learning in school.

As you know, each child is different. M would do better in a system that weighed homework over class participation, because he's too shy to speak up. Homework and quizzes are the only way he can show that he knows the work. Yet, that's not to say he knows it any better than the child next to him who can talk all day about a subject, yet freeze when trying to write it down.

Sadly, the best schools are those who can recruit/keep the talented and motivated teachers who manage to work within whatever moronic "flavor of the week" system the politicians and "administrators" choose to give them and still teach the kids. Those schools and their students will continue to do well, regardless. M has been very fortunate to have had a few exceptional teachers so far, and only 1 horrible one.

But I do sympathize with your frustration. I just encourage you to continue fighting for your kids, because if you don't, no one else will!
Dominar, we have spent mucho $$$ on L, my high schooler on tutoring and therapy to work up her organizational skills to the point where the "all or nothing" school flavor of the month is doable. This annoys us as L is bright, imaginative, and yes impulsive and disorganized. But telling her that she is not trying hard enough or doesn't care rather than acknowledging the fact that L doesn't understand and can't even see systems of organization without being shown them point blank. I can't think of examples right now but she consistent misses cues and clues about class work. Writing assignments down she gets only half since she just copies what is on the board and can't fill in the blanks such as due dates. So we had her tutored and medicated and she went to a special school within a school for "at risk kids" (oh that name irks me!) and now is in honors International Studies Academy. Why couldn't the school system see what we could? That she was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole system. Sigh.

So we start with the younger one who doesn't see to have the Executive Function Disability of the older one but does have distraction problems. We don't know whether it is bordom, hormones, or ADD so we'll start the testing stuff and implement the home system that rigidly patrols work--it is very exhausting.

And you are correct--it always bothers me with guilt that we are able to do these things for our kids. What about those families who cannot for whatever economic or cultural reason?
M sounds a lot like your older one. He doesn't seem to pick up on the normal, "obvious" cues either. His thought process is very disorganized -- he can usually see "the big picture" but gets overwhelmed when he tries to structure the supporting details in a logical way. He compensates with a great memory, but at some point, that won't be enough. For example, in science class, they were learning about the different classes, etc. within the Kingdom Animalia. He memorized all of the details, but it never occurred to him to say, "OK, there are two subcategories within the Kingdom: vertebrates and invertebrates. Then, there are 5 types of invertebrates: v, w, x, y, z; and 5 types of vertebrates: a, b, c, d, e, some of which are cold-blooded and some of which are warm-blooded..."

Once you point it out to him, he sees it. But he can never come up with it on his own. Same with taking notes, organizing homework, etc. He simply doesn't know now to approach it, even though he's very smart. His brain simply isn't wired that way.
M's thought processes are exactly like my older daughter's. In fact, she had the same trouble with classification. She has tricks now but oh man it has been tough to continually try to figure out where she isn't "getting it". She can't make inferences but reads exactly literally what is on the page. Hense, if it says a farmer could afford five cows, a large house, and had much money should couldn't say that he was rich. It is a type of dyslexia called Executive Function Disability. Schools have a terrible time with it. She also compensated for a long time by memorizing and got very dependent on that. We are weaning her off of it since it does her no good in high school.

Ah, education and its problems. This is my Farscape girl!
She can't make inferences but reads exactly literally what is on the page. Hense, if it says a farmer could afford five cows, a large house, and had much money should couldn't say that he was rich.

Yes! I can hear M say right now, "well, the neighbor could have six cows and even more money ... " Extremely literal-minded. His teacher fussed at the kids one day and made them all sit down. Then after 5 minutes, she said, "if you can promise me that you won't do it again, you may get up." All the kids except M got up. When she asked him why he didn't get up, he said, "but I can't promise I won't do it again." Another example: teacher tells kids, "here's a note for home. Once your parents read it, take a pencil and write 'done' on it." Next day, we were in a hurry so I grabbed a pen and wrote "done" on the paper -- M dissolved into tears because he was convinced he was going to be in trouble because 1) *he* didn't write it and 2) I had used pen, not pencil. Oy.

It is a type of dyslexia called Executive Function Disability.

Really? I've never heard of that. I need to investigate ...
OH MAN you have my life in spades. I have two like that. My younger one does that all the time. And so bright otherwise.

I was just reading your discussion of magnet schools and resentments. We have that problem here. The math and science magnet has "regular" kids and "magnet kids" and there is resentment--but I think it is the parents more than the kids. Somehow they do meld untile parents notice the difference and called it elitism or something. That is just my take. I would go for it because anything that keeps a child interested is worth pursuing. We are having a great sophmore year due to the International Studies Academy--a school within a school program. It is not magnet per se but does offer enhancements based on interest.
Yeah, I can definitely see *parents* getting into the act. In fact, I was sorta picking up that vibe from the parent who was telling me this in the first place. I would hope that enough of M's friends would be in the program with him to help offset any ostracization that could occur. We'll see. He may not even get into the program, or I may decide not to send him there for other reasons.

What worries me most is that M doesn't seem to be interested in *anything* other than video games. Even as a toddler, he didn't pay that much attention to his toys. He's never been into building things, or that much into drawing/coloring, puzzles, board games, sports, etc. He used to do that kind of stuff from time to time, but he never was excited by it. Same is true for school: He's never liked it, never liked reading, never liked learning for the sake of learning or heck, even satisfying his own curiousity. For that matter, he's not particularly curious. He simply wants to do well (and for the most part, he does do well) for the sake of doing well. It's more of a "I want to be able to go to the college I want, so I'll work hard" rather than "gee, I really enjoy learning new things." He's not particularly social, although he has plenty of friends. He's indifferent as to whether he's alone or with friends.

So, yeah, I worry about his future school choices a lot. There are soooo many waiting traps and wrong turns. *sigh*

It's great to know there are others out there like him. I'm definitely going to do research on that EFD thing. Thanks for the tip!
Sometimes a lack of interest masks anxiety about failing or even showing an interest and then loosing interest. I know that sounds weird but with these kids they feel so much and have been squished so much that they act contrary. Also, boys develop late and he may not show any interest in anything until College. With my daughter L it is manga and anime and role playing video games based on anime such as Kingdom Hearts and Inu Yasha. They are her entire focus. She obsesses. That is why she is considered geeky (and she is). She struggles socially because she refuses to feign indifference. Your son may need the immediacy and stimulus of video games--he might like computer programming and practical science--engineering/electronics. L didn't show any interest in academics until this year (10th grade) and now history and mythology hold her interest. It makes me breath a sigh of relief. She still doesn't learn for learning's sake. I think it is too stressful. Check out EFD because these are all signs. Good luck!
Sometimes a lack of interest masks anxiety about failing or even showing an interest and then loosing interest. I know that sounds weird but with these kids they feel so much and have been squished so much that they act contrary

No, it doesn't sound weird at all because his gifted class' teacher last year pointed out dysfunctional perfectionism as a common characteristic of gifted children -- so afraid to fail that they refuse to even try. In M's case, it's made worse by his literalism because you have to watch *every* word you say! Once, when he was stressed over something, he complained that I expected him to be "perfect." Seems he drew that conclusion from the fact that "when I do something right, you say, 'that's perfect!'"

Obviously, I tried to explain the difference between expecting him to try his best vs. being "perfect." As he's gotten older, the distinction seems to be sinking in, but we're still not to the point yet where he's willing to take risks. Or where he can deal with the ordinary frustration that comes from making mistakes as you learn something new. He insists on comparing himself to others who have a lot more experience in something than he does, then thinks that he stinks at it. He's very Type B to begin with, so where some kids would respond to the challenge with determination, he simply folds up his tent and heads back to the video games.

I've considered taking the games away (I already restrict them), but then part of me thinks it would be mean because it would deprive him of something he loved, while having no effect on his personality.

He has said he wants to design computer games when he grows up. If he doesn't ddo that, then I can easily see him as an actuary or accountant. :)

I'm glad your oldest at least seems to be finding her niche. She sounds very smart, so I would bet that at some point, she will realize the benefits of at least feigning interest in others and will be able to "fake it" enough to get by professionally, if nothing else. After all, that's what I did ;)
I ache for your son--it is so familiar to me that disfunctional professionalism. He has good parents. That aught to count for something.

Yup, me too. I pretend professionally to get by. That is why I enjoy Scapers, I don't have to pretend to be what I am not and hide so much who I am.

Your son will learn. There is a place for everyone. He'll make his own.
The last thing I heard about NCLB is it's an "unfunded mandate." Which simply means public education systems in the US have to function within its guidelines, however best they can. For small, rural school systems, with limited financial resources, it's a "no-win" scenario. They are already struggling with whatever is in socio-political correctness as the learning disability-du-jour and the proper responses to such. When his school was aware of ADD, my son's teachers had no idea what to do, did not have the resources to do it and were not inclined to discuss any alternatives to whatever their particular classroom methods they already had in place.

So education systems, once again, come to state governments for more and more funding, with no clear idea how to tailor education to serve the needs of the individual child in an overall attempt to level the field for all.

In a state like Oklahoma, where we are close to the bottom of teacher salaries, attracting and keeping the type of teacher who will have a passsion and compassion for the job is difficult, at best. With budget cut-backs, school nurses are luxuries most schools can not afford, class sizes are at all time record sizes and administrative positions are making the entire system top heavy.

It is no wonder many parents are turning to home schooling. There was certainly no religious reason why I home schooled my son through junior high school. When he fell through the cracks in a weak system, I had to do something. I don't know what the answer is for parents who can not take that action.
My sister in law in TN does the same. Her kids fell through the cracks in a system in Nashville that was also attempting to level the playing field. Luckily J is a special ed teacher and found packages and curriculums to fashion for her two kids. This doesn't mean she succeeded--the older child struggles with learning disabilities and yet is really smart. The private schools keep asking for credentials that home-schooled kids don't have so J continues to struggle to provide high school curriculum to entice her daughter to learn. It is touch and go.

Christi, you make me think because I am very unaware of what goes on in small rural jurisdictions. It is a terrible thing to foist these exams on systems that can barely raise enough money through property taxes to cover the basics of teaching. I know that there is rebellion by people with no children in some areas of the country (Michigan) who are refusing to pay the taxes for schools, thus further limiting the resources. I don't know what the answers are--but certainly our children did not thrive under such pressures. It takes a certain type child to succeed in spite of the exams, changing messages and changing teaching strategies.

We just have to hope that the protests against NCLB will soften its edges and allow proper spending of resources. Otherwise, who would want to be a teacher in this environment?
I believe the fallacy is in thinking there can ever be a "level playing field." Instead of "No Child Left Behind", it should be "No Child Treated As a Piece of the Machine."

I applaud J and her efforts to seize control of the situation by home schooling. Sadly, many people who attempt this are not willing to make the sacrifice in their lives to do it properly. Home schoolers can only manage to re-enter the established educational environment if the home school parent has kept meticulous records and grading standards the public schools wouldn't dream of maintaining.

When I put my son back into school, they blustered and blew about testing him, prior to allowing him back. I told them to knock themselves out. I was completely confident in his ability to pass whatever they could throw his way. When I was teaching him, 70% was a failing grade and we reworked the material. They admitted him back without testing...another empty attitude from public education. If they really cared more about his education and less about the funding from his butt on one of their chairs each day, they would have tested him.

I don't have any sympathy for the childless whiners, either. I haven't ever stepped foot in the library closest to me, yet my tax dollars support it. (OK, OK I'm not against libraries...I love libraries...I support libraries) But I live in this community and state, so my tax dollars pay for many services. Maybe these people would like to quit paying for fire and police services. They've never used them, so why pay for them? I'd come closer to agreeing to that and let their homes burn, except it would probably catch mine too.

For every child like my A, who breezed through school, there are many more like my son, who were in need of (at least) patience and (at most) even a smidgen of accommodation.

When I asked if C could take his tests orally, one teacher told me, "I have 29 other students to teach." If it hadn't been such a pathetic answer, I would have laughed. No one took a secret ballot and elected her to teach. She took it so she would have summers off.

I believe if the children in grades K-3 were given the close attention to their learning needs, a lot of problems with learning disabilities would not be so great in 6-9th grades. To be honest, it's a crime many children are in school so young. Who was the genius who thought that up?

On the upside, my kids have had benefit of some wonderful teachers. The ones they remember the most were the exception, not the norm. If you want a really eye-opening read...find a copy of you state department of education annual report...the one which defines how much is spent in each district on administration, etc. You will be shocked at the top-heavy nature of it all. It takes a heck of a lot of administration to run a system which no one, including the employees, are happy with. I told one school superintendent..."if this was a business, in the private sector, it would be bankrupted by the overabundance and incompetence of the majority of the administrators, apathy by the employees and withdrawal of clientele.
Definitely not a teacher, and in a completely different country.

Looking back at my school years, I have the impression that teachers, especially in the first few years, were capable of detecting learning disabilities. Unfortunately, that was usually the extend of it. They see a problem, inform the parents that their kid probably has this or that disability, but no way of actually dealing with it within the school system, at least not in a consistent manner. So, the problem is basically put back with the parents. Yes, there are special schools to deal with it, but you'll be paying a lot more money, which is not always an option.

Personally, I had it pretty easy. I remember the first time we got a test, mostly to prepare for high school. We had three weeks to learn the material but I didn't take it home until the afternoon before the test (still remembering the rather disapproving and slightly amused look on my teacher's face when he caught me taking it out). Not that I had forgotten about it, or anything, but just couldn't persuade myself to take it home and do the work ahead of time (so technically, I guess I did have a learning disability of some sort). Anyway, I practically aced the test, despite only learning for like an hour and a half.

Looking back now, that probably made me realize I could get by without doing much of the work. During the first year of high school, they test (or tested; things changed) you on two levels (distinctly separated in the test), to determine if you should follow the normal or a higher level of education. The first half year I tried my best (well, relatively speaking; compared to my class mates I was apparently still slacking off), but at some point I figured out that by doing practically nothing, I could pass the regular level part of the test, just not always the higher part. That prompted me to not make the upper level tests at all, just so my average would drop far enough they wouldn't suggest to me to take the higher level of education. It proved to be difficult, too, to get my average to drop far enough; half of the points of the regular test was also counted for the higher level test.

Of course now I know how incredibly dumb that was. First of all, it would have only been a suggestion, not a requirement. Second of all, I might have actually learned to do the work. The latter part might have saved me from some trouble in later education where I suddenly found myself struggling a bit to get by. Since I hadn't learned to do the work properly, and on time, my grades began to go down. I just couldn't motivate myself enough at home to actually do the stuff that needed to be done.

Sometimes I think 'shouldn't my teachers have intervened?', since they obviously knew about my lack of doing homework or any kind of school related tasks outside the school building. But what could they have done? Tell me what was up ahead, that I'd be having trouble later? I doubt it would've helped me. I also can't blame my parents. They told me I should do my homework, they knew I didn't, but when your kid is not failing his classes, should you force the issue anyway? Don't really know. I'm not sure what I would do if I have a kid one day and I see him/her following the same road as their daddy did. I guess I could only tell them what I experienced and hope they realized how important it was to learn the trick of education. But would I force them to do the homework? I don't know. If they were starting to get failing grades, yeah, but otherwise, I'm really not sure.

Hmm, did I have a point? Not sure actually. Just started typing and this crap came out. Anyway, Rita, hope both your kids will find their way in education and life. From what I read, your oldest is already on the right path.
I have always thought that the two-tiered European method of education was fascinating--a track for apprenticeship and a track for university. Is it still true that IF you pass the 0 levels and make it into unveristy then your education is paid for by the state whereas high school is private (meaning your parents cover the costs)? I like that because not all kids should go into academia (the old model for university) but would do better in business, computing, and other "trades". We would never do that because then the system would be deemed "elitist"!

I agree that your coasting along (as many kids do including my younger daughter) gets a rude awaking in upper grades because you have no tools about studying. I am torn about helping with homework because it doesn't teach responsibility but on the other hand it counts so much that if they don't do it they fail.

Marcel it sounds like you did okay using the European system and are doing something you love and are good at. What more can we ask of an education? That is all I want for my children.
Don't know about the other countries in Europe, but over here the situation is as follows:

Every child between 4 and 18 is required to follow an education. The parents are to pay for those years, but the state helps financially.

Once you reach 18, you're more or less on your own. You can get a student finance and if you're not slacking off (meaning you pass every year, though failing one year and redoing it is not such a problem) you don't have to pay it all back.

The amount of money the state gives you (be it financial help for the parents or the student loan) depends on the income of the parents. The student loan, on average, is about enough to buy half the books (if that) you'll need for a year. Payments, of course, are spreadout over twelve months, but the books will have to be payed at once at the start of the year (what kind of bozo came up with that idea?) As a bonus, you'll get a pass for free public transportation (the last year I actually had that, they changed it a bit: if you lived with your parents, you got free transportation during weekdays, if not, you got it for the weekends).

I just realized there's another difference: over here, homework doesn't count in most classes. It's just that during my electronics education I really needed to write reports about measurements/experiments on electronic setups and more of that crap. Those reports and stuff do count in your final grade for a specific class, but usually for about a quarter or a fifth. Whenever I did write those reports, I usually did that in haste (like, due Tuesday morning, so Monday evening (not the afternoon, even if I was home at 2) I wrote my butt of), resulting in a so-so grade (usually a 6 out of 10). Then there's the fun rule: for every day it's late, a full point is substracted, but never below a minimum of 3 (don't ask why, 'cause I never figured that out). So what happens when I know it's 3 days late? I don't do the work, 'cause I never got above a 6.

That posed a problem for the year where you had to work at some company or other (pretending to learn the trade first-hand). That year you're completely graded on the reports (a whole ten of 'em) you hand in. But I rarely did those. Luckily, they decided to change the system. Instead of the second to last year working, they wanted it to become the last. They came up with an ingenious transition plan which gave me an extra half year to make sure I learned this stuff. And I did. I immensily abused the fact I didn't do any of the other homework and I took my sweet time writing those test-reports during that first half year. And I managed to motivate myself to actually write a bit every day. It worked, as I suddenly got an 8 or 9.

"Marcel it sounds like you did okay using the European system and are doing something you love and are good at."
I did okay, in the sense that I breezed through rather easily. But I'm doing something I wasn't educated in (another thing I messed up: I chose the wrong education trade-wise), so I'm not sure how much the education system over here was of actual help. But I love it and I believe I'm very good at it.
Found this link, posted by suzgreen, on the ed_tech LJ:


It speaks on the educator's position on NCLB.
Thanks for the link! I was aware of this law suit.

It is interesting the the actual purpose of NCLB is to embarass school system parents into rising up and doing something about their schools. The school-wide tests are supposed to show up poorly operating schools and then we are supposed to demand vouchers. Only it backfired. Instead of parents demanding vouchers to remove their kids from poorly functioning schools you get school systems trying to follow the letter of the law (special ed kids have to pass the tests as do children who do not speak English). Each school has to show progress--even if they are in good shape. Good schools then look bad because they can't show enough progress whereas bad schools look great because their progress is statistically measurable -- even if they are still failing to teach. It is just stupid. The focus on progress as opposed to actually teaching is mind blowing to me. So, that law suit probably will fail because the purpose of NCLB isn't to teach but to remove kids from the system.

Oh, and vouchers? Washington, D.C. has many failing schools in the inner city. Parents got vouchers but couldn't find private schools they could afford except the Catholic schools who then became overcrowded. The $2,000 voucher doesn't go very far when private schools cost $10K or more a year to attend. Poor families are stuck with their failing schools and young teachers.

Christi, you mentioned the Legislative Session Teacher's days. I think that any group with a MISSION is going to be rude. They feel they are above you and that attention is due them. I hate self-righteousness. Thanks for your posts. They are wonderfully informative.
I wish I could say "any group with a MISSION is going to be rude," but I can't. The great majority of them, from Mental Health issues to Bikers For Child Health and Safety, are gracious. However, when the massive amounts of money are on the line, as in education funding, or an issue of such passionate fervor, such as Right To Life, is on the table, the graciousness goes out the window 99% of the time. In '06, an election year, you will certainly see much more inane posturing over education.

The $2,000 voucher system is supposed to approximate the $ spent per child by the government to schools. What a ridiculous notion it will help a family of two, three or four+ children with the costs of alternative schooling. While the contribution of student federal dollars is pooled among hundreds or thousands of students available, there are other sources of dollars for the schools besides Fed $. The average family can not access this sort of additional education funding. Vouchers make good sound-byte legislation, but poor assistance (at best) to a family in need of an alternative solution.

There is an interesting ADD/ADHD LJ:

add_adhdparents - Parents with Kids with ADD/ADHD
WOW thanks!