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NCLB Outrages

See to it that your child isn’t left behind

AGHHHHHH! When educators go over to the dark side it is really ugly because they have all that jargon on the tips of their tongues.

It enables us to look much more deeply at the performance of each group of kids and each student
--Joann Patton, Chief Academic Officer, Las Cruces Public Schools

"It" refers to the NCLB legislation!

I tried to find more information about the individual who uttered those remarks. She doesn't seem to have much of a track record other than being a co-presenter for a teacher inservice in January 2005. Title of presentation: Up! Up! Unlimited Potential! Unlimited Performance!

There's more:

Teaching is actually becoming more scientific, and that’s a good thing for students.
--Joann Patton, Chief Academic Officer, Las Cruces Public Schools

By Diana M. Alba

LAS CRUCES — With much talk over the past few years about the federal No Child Left Behind Act, people may be wondering how the law affects their own child.

Joann Patton, chief academic officer at the Las Cruces Public Schools, said the law changes the focus from looking at how well large groups of students are doing to looking at how well individual students are doing.

“It enables us to look much more deeply at the performance of each group of kids and each student,” she said.

This fall, officials in the Las Cruces Public Schools will finally have one of the tools they need to do this: data.

In May, school districts across the state administered a new test to students in the third through ninth grades and grade 11. The Las Cruces school district should get the results of those exams from the state education department in August or September, said Mel Morgan, director of data management for Las Cruces schools.

But what will those figures mean for students?

Morgan said after some number crunching by his office, the figures will be passed along to the superintendent and other administrators, the school board and — most importantly — the teachers.

Patton said the teachers will be able to look at the data to determine in what areas their students need help.

“We’re using the available data we get from the state tests to inform instruction,” she said. “It provides us with much more information than we had before to make good decisions about curriculum.”

This is an improvement over the former state test, the Terra Nova exam, because previously a teacher could see only what percentage of a large group had passed, Morgan said, while the new test and method of tracking results allows a teacher to determine how well a particular student did in subject areas.

“I think that it will really help teachers and schools, and that’s what it’s about — teaching and learning,” Morgan said. “That’s what we have to focus on.”

The test was actually administered in 2004 to grades 4, 8 and 11 as a sort of trial, Morgan said, but March was the first time it was given to the entire spectrum of grade levels.

Though teachers will get the first complete set of data in the fall, they won’t be unprepared to use it, Morgan said.

“There’s some training that goes with it,” he said. “We’ve been working with them for two years, but I really think they’re prepared.”

Patton said a casual classroom observer likely won’t notice a drastic change in teaching styles because of the new data.

“Will practices change after (teachers) see it? Probably so,” she said. “Are you going to see any bells and whistles? No.” Rather, teachers will be constantly trying to find out whether students are learning and in what areas they need help, she said.

Patton said the new test represents a shift in teaching trends. “Teaching is actually becoming more scientific, and that’s a good thing for students.”

Diana M. Alba can be reached at dalba@lcsun-news.com

— Diana M. Alba
Silver City Sun-News


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