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More schools failing now, than under NCLB

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Only about half of N.J.'s public schools meet goals

More are falling short than under the federal No Child Left Behind standards that were replaced.

JACKSON, N.J. - About half the public schools in New Jersey did not meet the state's new goals for student performance on standardized tests and will have to come up with improvement plans, state education officials said at a Wednesday meeting of school district administrators.

The number of schools falling short is higher than it was under the federal No Child Left Behind standards that the new goals replaced, but the consequences are far gentler.

The shift is happening in New Jersey and other states as the Obama administration backs off the 2001 federal law that required all students to pass the standardized tests by the 2013-14 school year.

New Jersey and nine other states were given permission this year to abandon those requirements and put in place their own measures. New Jersey's plan focuses on improving the state's lowest-performing schools while giving more autonomy to the rest. But the state still has annual goals for each of its nearly 2,500 public schools.

In the past, schools that made insufficient progress had to follow a mandated set of steps, beginning with sending letters to parents. The schools that missed targets year after year faced mandatory restructuring. Now, the improvement plans are up to the local boards of education.

Education Commissioner Chris Cerf told the school administrators not to expect more help from the state in paying for the latest changes. He said that federal, state, and local governments already had put $25 billion a year into New Jersey's public schools, and that schools would have to reorganize their priorities and consider consolidation or at least sharing services.

"If we keep spending our resources in exactly the same ways we've always been spending them, we're not going to have enough to do the things that matter most," he said. "This is going to require a creative redeployment of resources to meet your priorities."


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The issue is that by putting so much emphasis on standardized tests, the teachers just end up teaching the students how to pass the test. There is no room left for actual learning, curiosity, normal development, anything. It's simple memorization without retention. Standardized tests do give some measure of learning, but it should not be the only one. I'd rather have people do bad on that test and actually know something than do okay on it but know nothing, and hate school. Much like the SATs, these tests are not meant to be taught, they are just meant to be taken to show your knowledge. Public schools in many areas have problems, but forcing students to pass a single exam is not going to make them smarter.

Here is an article discussing one aspect of this problem.


Dear Governor: Lobby to Save a Love of Reading

On New Year’s Eve, we and another couple sat, as we have for many years, playing party games — waiting for midnight, a final toast, and a conservative but not reactionary bedtime shortly thereafter.

In past years our friends’ two girls led (and clobbered) us in rousing games of Pictionary; this year they were too old to hang out with their parents on this most festive night of the year. Our kids (younger) were already asleep.

Instead of Pictionary without the champions we decided to play a new game: “take the third-grade English Language Arts practice test” that our son had brought home from school as his vacation homework (if that is not an oxymoron, it should be).

We felt pretty confident of our ability to do well on the test: we all have Ph.D.’s in the humanities, three of us are tenured professors and one is a university administrator. We all make a living through reading.

The first section of the test comprised reading a short story and answering six multiple-choice questions about it. The story, concerning a pair of tiger siblings (an older sister named Tikki and a younger brother named Mista), was short and simple.

“Tikki eyed Mista, her little brother,” it began. ” ‘You sure don’t say much,’ she said.”

In the course of the story Tikki gets annoyed with her little brother because he can’t talk yet, attempts to get him interested in looking for bugs, then joins him in tearing bark off a log.

She tries to instruct him in this task, but discovers to her surprise that he is better at it than she is.

The first question asked, “What is this story mostly about?” and offered four choices:

A) what tigers like to eat

B) how tigers tear bark off logs

C) how two tigers get along

D) what tigers like to do

An intense literary debate followed the reading aloud of the story and this first question. In fact, we never got beyond it. One of our party felt that B, “how tigers tear bark off logs,” best summed up the action-oriented nature of the story, while another thought that C, “how two tigers get along,” best highlighted the interaction between the two animals...

AOS for my husband
8/17/10: INTERVIEW DAY (day 123) APPROVED!!

5/23/12: Sent out package
2/06/13: APPROVED!

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