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NCLB and Me
By Jacquie Ponsford


I have been teaching since 1971. I am in my 36th year of teaching. I have taught first and second grades, 4th grade, high school ESL, and now elementary ESL. I changed to ESL because I felt that this area of education "fit" who I am as a teacher. And it does still.

But with the advent of NCLB teaching has changed greatly. Yes, the kids are still the best part of being a teacher. But I miss the sense of having the academic freedom that allowed me to teach the skills the kids need to be prepared to be effective adults. If you don't know by now, each teacher is an individual and teaches the same concept with their own "brand" of presentation.

About the Author
Jacquie Ponsford teaches at Beaver Valley Elementary School in Brush, Colorado. Now in her 36th year of teaching, Ponsford has taught first and second combination and fourth grade. She presently works as an ELL teacher in grades 3, 4, and 5.

But now we have NCLB. Teaching emphasis is on teaching the skills so kids can give a one-day snapshot of what they know on a standardized test created by publishing companies. The content is decided by a team of "experts" who would never survive in a regular classroom. They have the research developed from universities and research on "best practices," but their theories are just that -- theories.

Because of government control over public schools, we are losing control of local schools that are supported by taxpayers. The reality is that everyone involved in the process of delivering educational services needs to follow the formula so their schools make Average Yearly Progress (AYP) based on snapshot tests.

On the statistics-created form, a school is judged by numbers and formulas created by legislative committees and legislators. The score comes from 85 separate components of educational measurements. The results determine whether a school has made AYP. If the school does not demonstrate the proper gains in each area then the whole district does not make AYP.

The result of this process is that teachers are forced to focus on the test rather than on what students need to learn so they can compete in the real world. Research shows that the most important influence in school is the individual classroom teacher. So how is a teacher supposed to have enough time or energy to enjoy his or her students and still jump through all the bureaucratic hoops?

NCLB takes the fun out of teaching -- not only for teachers, but worst of all, for students. Isn't that why we went into teaching? I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in my kids lives -- and there have been a lot of success stories in my career. That is how I hang on and why.

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