Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Yet another reason NCLB sucks...

One of the requirements for my MAT program was joining a whole bunch of professional organizations, most of which have acronymic titles featuring the words "Association" or "Education." One of them (I don't remember which one, actually, but I suspect it was one of the organizations for English teachers) sent me a link to this article from the Denver Post. It talks about a group of schools in Colorado whose reading and math scores have increased significantly in the past four years - one school went from having 20% of its students proficient in reading and math, to having 80 - 90% reading and doing math at or above grade level. When I first read that statistic, I thought, "Wow! That's great. I wonder how they managed such an increase..."

I didn't have to read much further to find out:

Hiza [the principal], who gives kids little vouchers for candy in the hallways when she sees good behavior, did away with science, social
studies and most recesses to focus almost entirely on the basics.

Teachers spent roughly three hours a day on reading and two on math.

Science scores, Hiza acknowledged, have suffered in comparison. Only 22 percent of fifth-graders - the only elementary grade that takes science tests - are proficient.

"There's only so much time in the day," Hiza said. "This allows us to concentrate on ... reading well."

Seriously. NO SCIENCE, SOCIAL STUDIES, OR RECESS. This is an elementary school! What happens when they get to middle or high school and they haven't learned the basics in those subject areas? Off the top of my head, things I learned in my elementary science and social studies classes: inertia and structural integrity (we had an egg drop off the school roof in 5th grade, and it was awesome!); the state bird, flower, and flag of Georgia (brown thrasher, Cherokee rose, and the old red-white-and-blue version); and, most important of all, how to make Gloop. It saddens me to think that an entirely new generation is going to grow up without all that.

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