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NCLB Stories: North Dakota

"When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a teacher. Often I would set my dolls in their chairs and teach them math and reading. My focus, my dream, was on teaching students. My focus today remains the same. "This time it is not education that is prohibiting me from teaching my students-I have a Master's degree-but rather the endless testing mandated by the government and the school district.

"Last year, our school was close to not making AYP. As a result, everyone was asked to provide the maximum number of accommodations for each student.

"As a speech language pathologist with a caseload of 40 students, this request entailed individually testing more than 20 students on the Gates, MAP (given three times a year in our district), and the North Dakota state assessment. It also entailed designing individual tests for three students for whom the state test was not appropriate. "The volume of this work took away from valuable contact time with my students. When I went to write quarterly progress reports, often I had seen a student only a limited number of times and, therefore, either I did not see progress or saw only limited progress.

"In addition, I was asked to design the individual tests to make sure that the student achieved the objective. If the student did not achieve the objective, I was told to redesign my test. Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect, however, was the day when one of my students stopped by after a number of his sessions were canceled and said, 'Mrs. Gumeringer, how am I suppose to get better if you never get to see me?'

"I had-and still have-a dream: I want to teach. Please help me achieve my dream."

Toni Gumeringer
Elementary School Speech Language Pathologist
Bismarck
Bismarck, North Dakota

 

"It's a professional slap in the face-someone telling you, after you've been working so hard at your craft for 30 years, that all of a sudden you are not qualified to do it. But the piece that did surprise me was the number of young teachers who told me they were getting out because they said that 'if they do this to us now, what else are they going to decide to pull when we get further into our careers and don't have any options?'

"They felt that now they have the option to go and do something else, to be treated with more respect, and to make more money at the same time."

Karol Nyberg
High School Teacher
Grand Forks
Grand Forks, North Dakota

 

"It's a professional slap in the face-someone telling you, after you've been working so hard at your craft for 30 years, that all of a sudden you are not qualified to do it. But the piece that did surprise me was the number of young teachers who told me they were getting out because they said that 'if they do this to us now, what else are they going to decide to pull when we get further into our careers and don't have any options?'

"They felt that now they have the option to go and do something else, to be treated with more respect, and to make more money at the same time."

Karol Nyberg
High School Teacher
Grand Forks
Grand Forks, North Dakota

 

"We're trying to make everybody alike, but not everybody learns the same way, at the same point. And that's the thing. It feels like everybody is being shoved into a mold.

"Everything is becoming prescribed. You have to stay with the curriculum so everybody is doing the same thing. It takes the creativity out of teaching, and that's a sad thing because we are not in an exact science. Not every kid is alike, and not every teacher is alike. So when you cut out the creativity, it is a very, very sad thing."

Marie Smavely
High School Teacher
Rhame
Bowman, North Dakota