Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Differentiating NCLB

By on March 20, 2008

Well, Halleluah.  The Chicago Tribune reports that finally somebody thought long and hard to themselves about differentiating the NCLB-designated failing schools.  Good for them.  It’s only been years that teachers have been chanting differentiation in the schools, and it’s about time that theory extended beyond the classroom.  But it’s a shame that it took so long.  Let’s face it, some damage has already been done.  The Hill talks about accountabilty, but what about the Schools Left Behind from the blanket definition of failures under NCLB?

Some schools facing cuts went to extreme measures to address their failings.  Some graduated students from Special Ed programs, or refused entrance to it, in order for their numbers to be low enough to not qualify their Special Ed population as a sub group.  Others instructed teachers to focus only on certain demographics’ learning levels, those of the middle group achievers.  Many teachers were told that they needed to focus their attention on these middle-level achievers rather then challenging the higher level students or focusing on the struggling students because, statistically, it would give a school’s scores more “bang for their buck.”  

Sure, one can blame the school for their decisions, but when faced with school-wide and district-wide budget cuts, many schools desperately believed that they needed to first address the threat of the guillotine over their heads before focusing on things like educating their student body.  

NCLB has been distracting in its strictness.  It has taken focus from true learning, and instead, turned our attention to avoiding the consequences of a fear-mongering law.

Congratulations to those who decided to stay our execution.  Unfortunately, you may have lost some students’ heads in the process.

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