NCLB Stories: Maine
"While we have been trying to prepare ourselves and our students for NCLB, it has been extremely frustrating. The time and effort we have spent in preparing and choosing local assessments to fit our curriculum has been tremendous and, yet, still not effective. NCLB seems to only have added additional assessment burdens, taking away from important teaching time.
"My goal is to teach children and assess their progress as I go, determining areas of concern. It feels as though I get less and less time to actually teach my students and fewer impromptu teachable moments because of areas that need to be taught and that will be assessed.
"More and more students are coming to us with less background knowledge on various topics because of the baggage they carry from their homes and early childhood. Starting children in a preschool program when they are not ready for the school environment doesn't appear to be helping them prepare for later grades; rather, it is a hindrance to some of their learning. We see more students now than ever before who are not ready for learning.
"The frustration at knowing that we teachers are going to be held accountable for what students know (or don't know) has set in. How appropriate is that? We work hard to reach students, and mostly we succeed; however, the students who are unavailable to learn because of their various issues could determine whether or not we keep our jobs. That just doesn't seem fair."
Middle School Teacher
"For the last five years, Maine has struggled with how to accurately gauge the success of schools in the narrow definition put forward by NCLB. MEAs, SATs, and LAS are a few of the countless acronyms that blur across my mind as I think back on the countless hours after school, on teacher workshop days, and on summer vacation days spent trying to figure out what was expected of me by this administration.
"Our state leadership has waffled on what is the best course, finally ending the MEAs and replacing them with the SATs last year. Our local budget crisis (an $800,000 shortfall last year) has been exacerbated by NCLB demands for special education funding, testing days over teaching days, and valuable professional-development time and dollars spent deciphering and revamping unclear and unrealistic assessment expectations.
"Over and over, I hear colleagues vent their frustration at the increasing amount of time spent outside of the classroom, when the best teaching occurs with the students. NCLB has given teachers no clear direction but, more importantly, it has given them no respect. In a profession in which salaries are diminishing, community respect is dwindling, and expectations are rising, it is truly disheartening to realize that the people in charge of education at the federal level have totally lost touch with the needs of education. I urge all legislators to please, please restore respect and credibility to the teaching profession by letting teachers teach. It's what we do best."
High School Teacher