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NCLB Stories: Oklahoma

"Teaching reading used to be fun. We worked on expression and on interacting with the book through connections that the children made with the text. This year, as I finished yet another fluency benchmark, a young lady of seven years of age beamed at me as as she finished and asked, 'Did I read fast enough this time?' and was unable to tell me anything of what she read.

"In the past few years, it seems as if I am doing less and less teaching and more and more testing. We do not expect each toddler to begin walking at the same age, nor do we expect each toddler to speak at the same age, why then should we expect students to learn at the same rate?"

Beverly Boyer
Elementary School Teacher
Muskogee Public Schools I20
Muskogee, Oklahoma

 

"It seems as though all I get done is testing my Title I reading students. We started school in August, and I'm still trying to fit the required assessments in during critical teaching times. Assessments are important, but actual one-on-one teaching time with the students will get them to the point where they are proficient with their skills by the end of the year."

Toni Burgess
Reading Specialist
Shattuck
Shattuck, Oklahoma

 

"For the last five years, my primary teaching duty has been English II. In Oklahoma, this is the class in which all Oklahoma students take the End of Instruction Test for English II. This test is designed to determine student reading skills, writing skills, and analytic-comprehension skills. In the last four years, because of the effect that students' scores on this one test has had on our district's annual API (Annual Performance Index) score, our district and department have had to totally revamp our English II curriculum.

"Here are the measures we have taken:

"By standardizing our curriculum, we had to eliminate most creative student projects, in-depth class discussions, in-depth thematic research opportunities, and group work. I have received extensive professional-development training in using all forms of music and art in my classroom to help reach my students and to increase their interest in and understanding of material. I lost almost every opportunity to use these important lesson enhancers in my classroom. Kids went from saying 'Mrs. Meigs' English class is so cool; she uses music all the time!' to 'I hate English II!'

"So will these strategies increase my student test scores? Maybe a little bit; we'll see in September what last May's scores were. What they have done is remove the creative joy that my job once gave me, remove the opportunity I once had to inspire my students to learn, and if this trend continues, they will remove me from this profession, despite my having pursued national certification this year.

"Please, put the burden and responsibility of true student assessment where it belongs--in the hands of professional teachers who, when given time, materials, and resources, can truly assess student ability! Allow me to teach to the students who need my expertise; no one learns anything when I teach only to a test."

Kimberly Meigs
High School English Teacher
Tahlequah I-35
Tahlequah, Oklahoma

 

"Our early childhood center was put on the at-risk list due to attendance . We average an attendance of 320 preK students. Attendance at any preK program is not compulsory; it is optional. I do not feel that we should be held accountable for attendance when enrolling is a choice."

Lora Reavis
PreK Teacher
Muskogee I-20
Tahlequah, Oklahoma