Thursday, September 03, 2009

Does Cheshire leave children behind?

By the NHRs Elizabeth Benton reports on the diagnosis of No Child Left Behind:

Thirty-seven districts statewide have been identified as needing improvement, 16 more than last year.

Locally, Ansonia, Cheshire, Hamden, Milford, New Haven, Wallingford and West Haven are on that list.

Well, there ya have it folks. Four years of Democratic majorities on the Council and Board of Ed have destroyed our schools!

No. I'm kidding. It's no more Democrats doing wrong than it would have been Republicans doing wrong. Based on my understanding of the NCLB, I don't like it. First, it's an underfunded mandate. Second, I don't think it's improving schools.

IMO, on balance the standardized tests in our schools are not a benefit. And the NCLB is not a good measure of the value of the Cheshire Public Schools.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Matt Altieri and Mike Ecke to the rescue!
"We need to spend a million more on turf and smartboards to improve our schools."

Anonymous said...

The Cheshire School System does one thing, teach the children how to do well on standardized testing, as that is tied into funding. It is also what the school publicize to show how they compare. My kids attended Cheshire Public schools for years and still cant spell correctly. I was told by a teacher, Highland, that they concentrate more on content, because the spelling will come in time.
Yes, my kids are now at private school playing catch up.
By the way, I get no tax break for reducing the impact on Cheshire Public Schools

retired teacher said...

There's nothing wrong with standardized testing as long as it accurately tests the curriculum being taught. The purpose of standardized tests is to objectively determine if students have actually learned what's being taught, versus allowing students who haven’t learned to slide by teacher’s subjective judgment.

I'm with you on spelling. The theory of so-called 'whole language' is to teach sight recognition of words by their use in context. That's fine and well, but it's not a substitute for also teaching basic phonics skills.

The fact is that spelling/phonics skills do not come in time, and young adults today lack the basic ability to sound-out unfamiliar words. I taught phonics in grades 1 & 2 without administration approval, and the kids loved it because it empowered them to read and write better.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is that the school budget is for the benefit of the teachers.

The entire school system is in the dark ages and the State Department of Education is also part of the problem.

Right now, if you don't go to college, our system trains you to be able to do nothing.

The first step is to get rid of the unions, tenure and the same old curriculum that's been taught for 100 years. Healthcare isn't the only thing that needs reform, education has to be totally revamped for this country to stay ahead of the rest of the world.

Our healthcare ranks 32nd in the world and I wonder where our education system ranks.

Anonymous said...

11:16 I hear you. Spelling means nothing today in our schools. That's a big mistake.
I hear you on the "no tax breaks" too. I've been paying taxes in this town for nearly 33 years - my kids are out of the school system - and I get no tax break for reducing the impact on CPS. Unlike those who just move here for the school system and will likely leave as soon as their kids are out, I have no plans on leaving. And for those who like to complain about the senior tax breaks, too bad. Most have lived here even longer than I have. They deserve every break they can get.

Anne Giddings said...

This retired educator (Full disclosure: former high school math teacher, math department chairman, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, curriculum supervisor, assistant superintendent) cannot resist adding her two cents to this topic.

I strongly agree with retired teacher that standardized tests can be helpful if they test what is being taught. Each district sets its own curriculum, and although most districts follow the outline the state provides for its tests, there is no guarantee that they match. And, though there is some cognizance of spelling and other writing “conventions” on the CMT, important since these conventions help the reader to understand the intent of the writer, students are still not always taught spelling rules. They should be, although this senior citizen was taught spelling rules and lots of phonics back in the dark ages, and I remember my 4th grade teacher telling my mother, “Anne spells phonetically, not necessarily correctly.” One has to give some attention to spelling, and check for typos; take some time to look at what has been written; that should be taught, also. (Similar to checking math work for possible errors, rather than just writing an answer and rushing on to the next problem…..)

There is a problem in using standardized tests to judge school systems, since particularly in districts such as Cheshire, many students enter school having had a variety of excellent learning opportunities at home: literacy rich homes with parents reading and using large vocabularies when talking to their children; private pre-kindergarten; travel; exposure to theater, art and musical performances; restriction on TV watching; etc. Historically, CT state testing, CMT and CAPT scores, tend to show a correlation with town demographics.

Also, one test a year will not show growth made by a child. A pre-test in the fall and a post-test in the spring would come closer to showing the effects of the schooling for that year, but would still not show the cause of the student achievement. Cheshire has generally good CMT/CAPT scores, and we would expect that to be the case.

I do know that NCLB has helped to nudge some school districts to pay more attention to the % of students scoring below goal, rather than just congratulating themselves on the % that score above goal. Attention should be paid to individuals who could achieve more, not matter where they score.

What does decent research show is the single most important factor in student learning? Not turf. Not smartboards. The factor is the teacher. We want playing fields to be safe for users and technology can make learning less tedious—help to motivate students. But technology is not the silver bullet. There is no easy answer.

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