Models for Writing About Personal Experience with NCLB

Models for writing about personal experience with NCLB’s damaging effects:

Parents about children:

  • I’ve seen the way NCLB and our state high-stakes tests have changed the way schools in my town teach writing--for the worse. In 6th grade, instead of learning about different forms and aspects of writing, my younger son’s class endlessly practiced the five-paragraph essay. The school was rewarded with higher scores on the test, but I feel the children lost out. I feel fortunate my older son escaped this narrow focus on formulaic writing.
     
  • One day after taking the Maine state standardized test in school, my 2nd-grade son put his head down on the counter and started to cry. He said, “I’m stupid.” I realized he was overwhelmed by the test. I wrote the school and told them I would be opting my two children out of state testing, which not only takes too much time from learning but is harming my children.  

Teachers:

  • I work in Texas, some say the birthplace of NCLB, and I see how NCLB’s overtesting is starving the life out of classrooms. This year our public schools will spend almost 1 out of every 5 days conducting tests for the State of Texas? Yes, that's right, an average of almost one day a week, or nearly 20% of the school year. My students—many with learning disabilities and whose first language is not English--cannot afford to lose that much time that they need to learn.
     
  • My colleague in New York is one of the best teachers on the planet. She is recognized for her dedication, creativity, compassion and the success of her students by student, parent, fellow teacher and principal alike. Yet New York’s byzantine formula for teacher evaluation has placed her in the 7th percentile, making her ineligible for tenure. The administration’s faith in using test scores to evaluate teachers will rob her students and countless others of the finest teachers we have.

Students:

  • My best friend was suspended from school for 45 days under our school’s zero tolerance behavior policies, though all he did was hold another student’s iPod. Other friends have suffered similar harsh penalties that they did not deserve, for infractions that had nothing to do with school safety. If you want to do something to improve the learning climate and increase achievement for poor students of color, outlaw zero tolerance policies that derail students’ education and put them on the path to prison.
     
  • I think most students like me feel as if all we do is go to school to learn to pass this test. Please change NCLB so my teachers will stop teaching me strategies to pass the test. They need to teach me how to solve the equation. I can pass the test. Teach me what I need to know so that I can understand what I’m doing.