NCLB Stories: Massachusetts
"Human beings cannot be measured as objects. Learning is a complex and individualized process that is based on students' life experiences and their complicated physiological mechanisms, especially so with students who have special needs.
"NCLB is unfair and unjust in its present form, and it is producing wrong and misleading reports—thus misrepresenting the excellent quality of education offered by our teachers at my school and misrepresenting the actual abilities of our students."
Elementary School Teacher (and former physician)
"I am a teacher of high school ESL students. In Massachusetts, recently arrived students from other countries are now required to take the tenth-grade state exit exams (MCAS) in their first year in the United States, without consideration of their English language proficiency. Many of my students have despaired when faced with the exam as early as November, if they entered the school as juniors.
"For some, English-language experience is limited to greetings and elementary commands, and they are asked to sit in a room for five days and answer questions that they can barely read. Most of these students come from countries where exams mean the difference between staying in school or entering the work world.
"My students are facing huge adjustment problems to begin with and challenges far beyond those of the average high school student. The state should not require that they be subjected to the added stress of a high-stakes test that they have no chance of passing."
High School Teacher
"One morning a few years ago, as the second grade was about to start a standardized test, I passed a sobbing young girl in the hallway. She was so totally panicked about this test that she could not control her emotions. Seven-year-olds should not have to feel such angst about taking a test.
"Please, let kids still have a chance to be kids."
Elementary School Teacher
"The NCLB act and the concomitant high-stakes testing has affected everything we do in the classroom. In particular, our students who have special needs are negatively impacted emotionally by this type of testing. Many cannot measure up when tested with a one-size-fits-all model. The pressures before, during, and after testing are immense and are beyond what any adult would accept in the workplace. Yet we put children through this and do not allow them a way to show their learning and progress.
"Over the years since state standards and the high-stakes testing were imposed, many negative effects have become apparent. In particular, I have seen a change from an approach that is progressive and child-centered to one that is regressive and driven by high-stakes. This is so detrimental to the education of children.
"It drives away the natural excitement and curiosity of children. It sends a message to children, parents, and teachers that a score on a test is the goal of education. It makes the children feel defined by that test score."
Elementary School Teacher