NCLB Stories: Kentucky
"ESEA does not allow teachers to truly teach. We are more concerned with paperwork and preparing for tests than we are for teaching and preparing our students for the future. I did more true teaching in the beginning of my career than I am doing presently. Teachers are losing more and more control over what needs to be done in the classroom, despite the fact that we know what is right for our students.
"I have witnessed the loss of great teachers to other careers. They are overwhelmed and overworked. In one to five years, the ESEA has turned beginning teachers, filled with excitement about teaching, into disenchanted teachers who have lost control over their jobs. We need to revive the teaching profession. I teach an introduction to education course at my high school. I would love my students to enter and stay in education. Let us return to doing what we love to do and teach!
"I have been a teacher to children with special education needs for 29 years and have witnessed significant changes in teaching, paperwork, and educational issues. In 1990, Kentucky revised its Kentucky Education Reform Act, which increased portfolio development and open response test questions. And then the ESEA changed the workload for teachers and students dramatically. Now, we not only have to administer the KATS test, but we also have to administer the federal government's tests, which are given at the end of the school year. So our students are taking the state, federal, and final or course-exit tests in a four- to six- week period.
"Our students are feeling the pressure and hate the tests. We have had some students become physically ill when taking these tests, and we have had others who are tired of the testing. All of these tests require that our special needs students who are mildly mentally handicapped (IQ at 70 or lower) be tested at their grade level (they can receive extra time, a reader, or a scribe as stated in their IEP's). Our districts require all students to score no lower than apprentice level on their portfolio and state open response questions, which does not match the achievement level of a person with an IQ of 70 or below.
"I believe that all students can learn and should be challenged to reach as far as they can. But the requirements of the federal and state governments are unrealistic for all students. Education is not a one-size-fits-all. Please revise the ESEA to more realistically fit our students."
High School Teacher
"NCLB has taken the joy out of teaching for teachers and learning for students . It has led to a focus on accountability that excludes many basics for a responsible, productive member of our society. Math and reading are tremendously important, but so are civics and the arts!"
Middle School Teacher
"I love teaching my special needs students, but I am overwhelmed by the paperwork we are required to do. Yes, we have computers, but the time required to do the monitoring and other non-teaching reports takes away from the instruction that my students desperately need. I choose to teach during the day and, therefore, am forced to work late many evenings on often duplicative and unnecessary reports.
"The laws that once helped our students have now become the very things that are keeping us from closing the achievement gaps between those who have disabilities and those who do not. I love my students, but I do not enjoy teaching as I once did because of all of the paperwork that has nothing to do with teaching our students."
Audrey L White
Middle School Teacher