Today is the fifth anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act, and Margaret Spellings, our lovely Secretary of Education, celebrated by giving a speech to none other than the Chamber of Commerce. (And why not? The NCLB law has done more to benefit large corporations than it has done to benefit students - think McGraw-Hill.) My unfortunate addiction to C-SPAN provided me with the first-hand experience and it was quite a thrill to listen to MY leader spouting off about how her beloved law was beginning to make teachers more accountable.
So, to celebrate this wonderful anniversary, I will tell you how NCLB has changed my life as an educator. Before, as a Literacy Specialist, it was my job to help teachers in my building keep up on best practices in the area of teaching reading, as well as to pull out and work with groups of students who, for a variety of reasons, were struggling with reading. Well, Margaret's favorite law has changed all that. Now it is my job is to make sure that teachers are spending enough time on test-taking strategies, and to coordinate the district, state, and national tests in my building.
Just this month, I am administering a national assessment to certain ELL (English Language Learner) students in Grades K - 5. This is not a small test - each grade level has a booklet about 25 pages long, and it takes several sessions to test each group of students. Also in January - next week - our fifth graders take the Nevada Writing Proficiency examination, which is administered in three one-hour sessions. And, we end the month with the 4th Grade Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a national standardized test - also a relatively thick booklet which is administered over three days.
I could go on . . . but it's late, I'm tired, and tomorrow I spend the day in the fifth grade classrooms doing test prep lessons for the upcoming writing exam . . .
So, UP YOURS, MARGARET!
(There, Rachel, was that more like the mom you know and love?)