Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council takes your questions, gives advice and shares solutions.
Our conversation starts today with a topic that has been a very controversial one since the law went into effect back in 2002: No Child Left Behind. President Obama recently granted a waiver to 10 states—including Massachusetts—exempting them from the law. With that in mind, we asked the Moms Council for their take, as parents, on this development.
Here’s what they had to say:
No child left behind in theory was a great plan. The reality of it seems to be a much different thing. Since MCAS testing has been taking place, from third grade on, I feel the kids as well as the teachers are more stressed then ever. I dont think such a formal testing process should happen till high school. I know teachers need to gauge what the kids are learning so a less demanding process should happen there. In high school kids need college placements and such so SAT and MCAS should happen. The kids in elementary school and middle school I don't feel should be subjected to such stress. It is a stressful process. Teachers now, in my opinion, teach to the MCAS tests and are under the stress to "hit the bench mark.” I think lifting this stress, if even for a short time, releases some pressure and allows schools and kids to learn under different pretenses. Don't get me wrong, I get that schools need to be held accountable for having kids learn and to be held to a certain standard, I just don't think that the children need to be put through such strict testing in order to come up with those numbers. I remember when I was in school we took some tests and we had to sit down fill in all the little circles a b c and d... I'm sure the schools came up with the same sort of information that they come up with now it just wasn't as strict or as stressful.
As a parent, I do not focus on these initiatives (at the federal or state level) when it comes to how my child is performing and progressing. As a parent, I am monitoring my child's progress and their grades. I know what they are capable of and what my expectations are. I am providing them the guidance, direction and tools they need to succeed and meet their schools curriculum requirements. Not every child learns the same way and has the same capabilities. There is not one mold to measure our children against.
However, I understand that schools should be held accountable to an extent where federal and state funding is provided. As a parent, I am not looking at those assessments in regards to my child individually, but am interested in how the schools my children attend perform.
As a parent I would like to hear from the educators and even the Reading School Committee, because they’re the experts. I have a lot of respect and admiration for our teachers here in Reading. My girls enjoy school and do well in school, but only one has experienced the MCAS so far. I never did well on standardize tests, but am able to apply and articulate what I do know and understand. I’m not sure if the government’s tools are the best for measuring which is why I would like to hear from our educators on this subject.