Position paper burpin' mack nclb policies and early childhood education


Published on

IS the "No Child Left Behind Act" putting too much pressure on preschoolers?

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Position paper burpin' mack nclb policies and early childhood education

  1. 1. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 Burpin’ Mack – No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Policies and Early Childhood Education Then down from below In the great turtle stack Came a burp from a plain Little turtle named Mack Just part of the throne This burpin' little turtle Looked up and said "I beg Your pardon king Yertle" I've pains in my back My shoulders and my knees How long must we stand Here your majesty "Silence !" the king of the Turtles barked back To the bad burpin' Little turtle named Mack I'm Yertle the turtle Oh marvelous me for I am ruler of all that I see Adopted from Yurtle the Turtle and Other Stories by Giesel, T.(1958). Random House. Copyright 1958. The new policies as a result from the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) instigated whole school reform. Secretary Page stated, ―I believe the No child Left Behind Act of 2001 will go down in history as the key piece of public policy that finally slammed close the achievement gap between those who have and those who don’t…‖ (Byrnes, 2009, p.181). Mounting pressure is being placed on educators and school systems to find ways to meet the performance requirements for students on ―high stakes‖ standardized tests. Student pass rates must increase as required by this act such that schools show Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). By the year 2014, all but 1% of the students’ performance will be evaluated by ―high stakes‖ testing with the only exceptions being those categorized by IDEA with cognitive disabilities (e.g., autism, multiple disabilities and traumatic brain injury) which would prevent them from attaining grade-level achievement standards (Byrnes, 2009, p.173).
  2. 2. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 The requirements of NCLB have prompted educators to put increasing pressure on younger grade levels to develop skills needed to pass the ―high stakes‖ tests they will face upon entering third grade. ―Kindergarteners are routinely tested and evaluated on the mastery of academic standards that were previously thought to be beyond their developmental understanding.‖ (Byrnes, 2009, p.341). Modern Kindergarten is what first grade was forty years ago (Deming & Dynarski, 2005). Are the stringent requirements of NCLB causing our young students to feel like Mack the bottom turtle in Yertle’s turtle stack? Across the country school curriculums are requiring kindergarteners to acquire skills beyond the average developmental level milestones expected by the end of 5 years of age according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), (Starr, 2002). Even the best and brightest students will struggle if they are asked to complete tasks beyond the scope of their development. For Example, Table 1.1 contains some of the curriculum requirements for various schools across the United States versus the developmental milestone expectations by the AAP. Table 1.1 School and curriculum requirement Lombard (Illinois) Elementary School District 44 Kindergarten students will learn to "identify story elements: plot, setting, characters." The Department of Defense Education Activity Kindergarten students in military schools will "begin to form letters with control over size or shape." The Cotati-Rohneet Park Unified School District in Rohnert Park, California, Kindergarten students are required to "count with oneto-one correspondence to 30" & comprehend relationships between numbers to 30." Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina Kindergarten students are expected to learn to "recognize and name upper and lower case letters of the alphabet." AAP Developmental Milestone Five-year-olds should "understand that stories have a beginning, middle, and end." Five-year-olds will "enjoy tracing or copying letters" and "may" have enough fine motor control to "tie their shoes." The average five-year-olds are developmentally able to "count up to 10 objects." The average five-year-old, can learn to "identify some letters of the alphabet and a few numbers." Adopted from ―Kindergarten is for Kids‖ by L. Starr, Education World, 2002. Retrieved from: http://www.educationworld.com /a_issues/issues325.shtml
  3. 3. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 As the book Yertle the Turtle depicts, the stack of expectations for our youngsters get higher and greater, little Mack at the bottom is beginning to complain. Teachers and parents are forced to look at other options for the youngsters who are not measuring up. Some of the tactics used for struggling kindergarteners are Redshirting and Retention. It is estimated that annually 7% of potential kindergarteners are redshirted (having to wait an extra year before entering school) and 5% are retained. The redshirts and those who are retained are primarily boys who seem to lack the emotional and developmental abilities to meet the rigors of modern kindergarten. This allows a temporary advantage for these students to achieve the maturity level required but this gap is usually eliminated by the third grade. These students are rarely able to maintain the performance levels of their grade mates (Graue, Kroeger & Brown, 2007). ―The Gift of time‖ doesn’t appear to be a solution for most of the children who are either redshirted or retained. ―We think it might be helpful to highlight … — developmentally responsive practice— by building on what we know about child development and articulating the responsive act of teaching in concrete ways‖ (Graue, Kroeger & Brown, 2007). Response to Intervention (RTI) has become the main focus of Early Childhood Education when attempting to overcome the deficits of struggling students. ―As both an instructional process and new component in special education law (IDEA, 2004), questions abound as RTI makes its way through state houses, classrooms, universities, and households‖(NITCHY, 2010). RTI is commonly referred to but not clearly defined. ―Since RTI is part of existing law, perhaps the question is not whether educators should implement RTI, but how to do so‖ (Byrnes, 2009, p.157). IDEA (2004) allocates 15% of federal special education dollars to be allocated for early-
  4. 4. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 intervention programs designed for students who have not been identified as needing special education services but who are struggling to meet the demands of the classroom (Gentry & Windfield, 2010). RTI was originally designed to determine if a student was in need of special education services, but has since been broadened to encompass the spectrum of all students with learning difficulties. ―RTI is an innovative approach to service delivery within schools. As practitioners become increasing frustrated with current practices (i.e. waiting for a student to fail before services can be provided) and were faced with the pressure of No Child Left Behind, they acknowledge that a more proactive and preventative approach in needed‖ (Gentry & Windfield, 2010). The components of a successful RTI program include systematic and data-based activities. It is a three tier program where tier 1 is comprehensive and universal. Tier 2 is reserved for those students who need more intensive and specific instruction. Tier 3 is used to identify more specific learning problems and can be a transition point between general and special education (Byrnes, 2009, p.138). So what do we do about our little friend Mack? Is he benefiting from the increasingly demands placed on kindergarteners or will he become one of the ones who collapses under the pressure by either shutting down or dropping out as he progresses through the educational system? In response to the pressure from NCLB Act many schools, especially in lower economic communities, start drilling and testing kindergarteners. This may not be the best practice. ―The increase in teacher-directed instruction that has resulted from No Child Left Behind has already pushed play out of the curriculum in kindergartens countrywide. This is a far greater problem than many realize. Play is the cornerstone of social, emotional, and cognitive
  5. 5. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 learning and healthy development. It is through play that children develop the foundation for cognitive concepts, problem solving skills, and critical thinking which is essential for later academic learning. Play generates imagination and creativity, planning and self-regulation. It helps children develop a love for learning‖ (Carlsson-Paige & Levin, 2010). As school systems respond to the demands placed on them by NCLB on early childhood education, Mack (the littlest turtle), cannot be forgotten. A balance must be achieved between passing ―high stakes‖ tests, the developmental level of kindergarteners, and early childhood education. Increased pressure on the youngest of our students to learn test taking skills will not necessarily pay off in the long run. Care must be taken to insure that curriculum requirements and materials presented and curriculum requirements are developmentally appropriate so that our little Mack can thrive instead of crumble under academic pressure.
  6. 6. Shuna Laura Flores June 19, 2010 Position Paper 2 References: 1. Byrnes, M.A. (2009) Issue 3: Is Eliminating Minority Overrepresentation Beyond the Scope of Public School? In L. Loeppke, F. Shilling, & J. Benedict (4th Eds.) Taking Sides. Clashing Views in Education (pp. 138, 157, 173, 181 & 341). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill 2. Carlsson-Paige, N. & Levin, D. (2010, April 18). NCLB Outrages – One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Boston Globe. Retrieved from http://www.susanohanian.org/show_nclb_outrates. php?id=3961 3. Deming, D. & Dynarski, S. (2005) The Lengthening of Childhood (Research Report No. 08-3). Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED505616) 4. Gentry, R. & Windfield, G. (2010, February). Response to Intervention – See Johnny Run. Presentation for the 2010 Annual CEC Conference, Jackson Convention Complex, Jackson, MS. Retrieved from ERIC database (ED509170) 5. Giesel, T. (1958) In Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (Picture Book). New York, N.Y.: Random House Publishing 6. Graue, E., Kroeger, J. & Brown, C. (2007). The Gift of Time: Enactments of Developmental Thought in Early Childhood Practice. Retrieved from: http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v5n1/graue.html 7. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. (2010). Response to Intervention (RTI). Retrieved from http://www.nichcy.org/pages/rti.aspx 8. Starr, L. (2002, June). Kindergarten is for Kids. Education World. Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/issues325.shtml