NCLB Under Fire

Former and current teachers joined members of the progressive party Thursday afternoon to express their dismay over the federal No Child Left Behind law — requiring schools to test students each year to make sure adequate progress is being made.

“A terrible waste of instructional and student time,” said Larry Carbonetti, a former teacher in Southern Vermont.

Teachers claim they spend more time teaching students how to take the standardized test — instead of teaching the curriculum.

“If you think about a school year that has approximately 37 weeks of comment time, and you take 5 weeks out of that to drill for a test the opportunity for instruction that is lost is disastrous,” said Carbonetti.

The Vermont Education Department says 61 schools did NOT meet yearly standards under the federal No Child Left Behind law. That’s compared to ten last year. Education officials say the reason for the increase is because more grades were tested this year. The state board of education says it stands by the law.

“twenty-two percent of schools in Vermont failed NCLB standards,” said Rob Roper, of the Vermont Freedom Works.

Roper does not believe NCLB is a perfect gauge of student progress — but feels that teachers have to answer to the public about student performances.

“The question that that raises in my mind is if teachers are teaching to the test, why aren’t students passing the test? maybe they’re not teaching the test and making the complaint or they’re not teaching very well, both questions deserve an answer,” said Roper.

“What I would love to see it replaced with is a question that really has what I think is an elegant simplicity, what can we do to help each child grow as much as possible,” said Carbonetti.

The group is asking that Vermont officials push to have the law scrapped — they say that will allow them to better teach their students.