Professional Educators

NCLB Doesn’t Measure Miracles

By Jennifer Skellet, a National Board Certified Teacher and active member of the California Teachers Association. She teaches 4th grade in Oceanside, California. 

I’ve been struggling professionally for the past few months, not with my students who are amazingly bright and have been working so hard in my class, but with the national system in place to judge me and my students’ accomplishments. Our district is in year three of Program Improvement under the ever looming NCLB legislation that says all students must meet their target growth or be proficient by the year 2014.

I believe that our students across the nation are learning so much every day. The little boy who couldn’t read fluently on Tuesday comes to class on Friday and has made a miraculous discovery—words. More importantly, he has discovered that words make sense and that he can gain important knowledge from these sacred words.

“Mrs. Skellett, did you know that Antarctica is the only continent without reptiles?” he asks.

He smiles and runs back to his desk to find more interesting facts from the book he has borrowed from the classroom library. How can the system in place measure this little boy’s progress? He is certainly not at grade level, yet has made vast improvement since his first day in fourth grade. High stakes assessments used in NCLB doesn’t measure this sort of daily improvement. At times, the efforts I make in lesson planning can feel futile.

I struggle because the legislation won’t see this student’s, and many others’, improvement and will judge my work, my school, my district, and—more importantly—
this student. The legislation will declare us all failures. I am not against accountability for educators or students. My hope is that a new system of accountability will be created to show the amazing work we accomplish everyday in the classrooms.

Until then, I will be celebrating my students’ achievements without the official recognition of NCLB.

This post is part of a series from National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) who have been invited to blog about their experiences working in a priority school.

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