Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

NCLB Outrages

What’s Happening So Far

Ohanian Comment: I lack the strength to express outrage. The blogger concludes: should be a stressful, busy, great year! ;)

It is a human failing to confuse busy-ness with success and even virtue. When Barbara Ehrenreich wrote of the cult of conspicuous busyness two decades ago in the HERS column in the New York Times, Feb, 21, 1985, she was talking about upwardly mobile, professional women.

[F]or both sexes, busyness has become an important insignia of upper middle class status. Nobody, these days, admits to having a hobby, although two or more careers - say, neurosurgery and an art dealership - is not uncommon, and I am sure we will soon be hearing more about the tribulations of the four- paycheck couple. Even those who can manage only one occupation at a time would be embarrassed to be caught doing only one thing at a time.

And now Reading First has brought this frantic busyness to schools, to the teacher and to the students. They call it data mining and data warehousing. They say it is good. They say that it is essential. I say it is destroying the profession of teaching and blighting the education of young children.

This blogger is very very busy training teachers to assess the children more and more.

You can also see what Reading Coaches do, when they aren't checking that teachers are on the right page in the scripts.

These people need to stop and take a big breath. They need to consider what all this busyness is doing to the children in their care.


Well, itâs been a busy start of school! We have a new K-6 core reading program, we are doing the Reading First initiative non-funded, and we are giving all of our âbenchmarkâ commom assessments electronically in addition to all the ordinary beginning of the year tech stuff there is to do. Needless to say, the teachers are very stressed, too. Hereâs whatâs been going on in a nutshell:

* Along with Reading First, every K-4 student will be given the DIBELS assessment 3 times a year by a âbenchmark teamâ consisting of the reading coach, reading and math Title I teachers, speech language pathologists, and learning disabilities teacher - all with Wireless Generation software on Palm handhelds. The district technician and one of the building techs (thanks Todd and Kim) got all 91 Palms charged up for me, then assisted me in downloading the WGen software and the teachersâ usernames/passwords installed on the Palms. Next came an all day training led by the SEMO RPDC for the benchmark team members. Then I got all the students into the online database and sorted into classes. The first full week of school the testing began. All went pretty smoothly with only a few little bumps. The main issue is that we seem to have a non-stop flow of students moving into and out of the district, which means I am input and deleting students every day. Next week I will be assisting the Reading Coaches in training the K-4 classroom teachers in giving the Progress Monitoring assessment. A Palm in the hand of 91 teachers - the thought is staggering!

* For years we have given benchmarks tests (also known as common assessments) in our district every quarter. This year we are moving to every 3 weeks in science and math and every 6 weeks in reading. To ease the burden of teachers in scoring all these tests, we purchased Exam View assessment suite. My colleage and other Software Coordinator, Gary Williams, loaded the program on every K-6 teacherâs computer and we have now trained 4 of the 6 elementary buildingsâ staff in using the program. Next week the teachers will be using it with their students for the first time. I am optimistic but know there will be issues, so I have cleared my calendar as best I can to be âon callâ for them. The week after, I will be working with the reading coaches to create the reading benchmarks which will be given the week after that. We also have to figure out how to get the kindergarten studentsâ scores into the program in as easy a way as possible.

* Speaking of kindergarten, the teachers are in year 2 of using an electronic checklist for their report cards that I created in Excel. There is probably an even better way to do this, but for now, it seems to be going well. I just had to update the file to match our new reading program.

* Teachers are still using the Anywhere Learning System (A+LS) and Scholastic Reading Counts with their students and I have managed to get that mostly set up for them. Though there is still a lot to do in ALS and I have to give all the 7th graders passwords in Reading Counts.

* Mid-quarter grades are due Monday and some elementary teachers are just now getting into the program so they are having some moments of forgetfullness and Iâve received some very panicked emails, but nothing that couldnât be fixed.

* We have added a 6th grade computer literacy course this year in addition to the 5th grade keyboarding class, so Gary and I created individual network logins for all 5th and 6th grade students, which has been quite a chore because it seems that 10 and 11 year olds cannot remember a username and password from one 50 minute class to the next when they only use it once a week. Ms. Jones is a very patient teacher!

* In addition to all of the program set ups, training and trouble-shooting, I am supposed to be meeting with each K-6 teacher once a semester to plan and implement a technology-integrated lesson. With all that has been going on, my assistant superintendent in charge of professional development has gratiously taken this down to once a year since it will most likely be November before things calm down enough for me to meet with teachers. Thanks, Mr. Comstock!

* Last year we began posting elementary lesson plans online - which was supposed to make life easier for teachers, and for many it did, but for many it made life more difficult. This year, our elementary and middle grades assistant superintendents have gratiously [sic] agreed to let me post a district wide lesson plan for each grade level in each subject (taken from the district curriculum pacing guides) so that the teachers may create their lesson plans in the manner that is easiest and least time consuming for them. Thanks, Ms. Griffin and Dr. Bowen! Another chore for me, but it is well worth it to ease the burden of the teachers who are so overwhelmed but working so tirelessly to make sure the students in their care are getting the best education possible.

* Iâm also facilitating the review and recreation of our district technology plan which must be submitted to the state by the end of March. We have our first committee meeting September 25 and much still needs to be done before that meeting. But we have a good start and I think it is a good plan so far. Iâm anxious and excited to get the input of our faculty, staff and community members on the committee.

* As a result of the LoTi workshop I attended this summer, I am working with our district PD asst. superintendent on creating a training for our district principals that will help them evaluate technology use in the classroom. The work for that is just beginning.

* Our district will also be looking at revamping our Acceptable Use Policy to fit with all the new technology that has become so prevalent. I will be participating in that, so I am doing some research and reading to prepare for that.

* Our superintendent is interested in finding a data warehouse software to merge all of our student demographic and assessment data in a way that is easy to mine. Iâll be involved in that project when it gets going.

Whew! Thatâs about it so farâ¦should be a stressful, busy, great year! ;)

— Missouri school employee


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.