No Child Left Behind: A Challenge to the US Educational System
Today in America, one of the biggest challenges for teachers of all grade levels is to strike the correct balance between curriculum delivery, skill practice, and integrating technology into core content areas. The problem often for American teachers today is how to deliver instruction to students in a cohesive way that doesn't interfere with state standards and high-stakes testing and strike the right balance of technology initiatives and leveraging curriculum. No Child Left Behind Essays reveal how this act should work or doesn't work in modern American schools.
In Texas, under the No Child Left Behind Act, there are regulations and guidelines that have to be met each year for a school district to maintain their adequate yearly progress designation. The Department of Education monitors students' academic performance, students’ academic growth, and the rate at which minorities are performing on campuses, and other data points each year. If students and schools don’t meet benchmarks, schools ultimately receive poor ratings, which means they aren’t eligible to receive certain federal tax dollars, a factor that contributes to leaving millions of students digitally behind.
In the article “Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn To Use Tech' 'Benjamin Herold points out that there are numerous discrepancies between students that come from high income homes, and low income students in terms of the accessibility of devices, and the ingenuity of the professionals who are working with students in the classroom. The availability of newer high tech devices is disproportionally seen in areas in the country where students have less money. Students who have less money, under the NCLB, reckon with unintended consequences of a system that mandates passing state standardized tests as a measure of learning success and appropriations of funds.
The article by Herold argues that teachers and administrators struggle with the pressure of raising test scores and getting students to perform, which makes little time for innovation and digital creativity. Most often students from low income homes see curricula in their public school that focuses on test prep-driven agendas and follows standardized teaching schedules. Herold points out that most teachers on Title 1 campuses know and understand that technology leverages student learning and creates opportunities for personalized learning pathways. However, the lack of understanding on the parts of politicians around the daily impact of standardized testing and its effects on authentic teaching and learning has led to a shrinking curriculum, leaving technology - in a lurch. This testing craze driven by accountability has led to a shrinking of the curriculum in non-tested areas across the board, which doesn’t leave any room for students to be online, researching topics of interest, being innovative, or being creative with software and devices
A strong viable curriculum promotes and fosters literacy independence, creative thinking, and STEM research. In the article “Poor Students Face a Digital Divide In How Teachers Learn to Use Tech, Herold states that technology is one of the best and easiest ways to support students in advanced learning skills. He states that student learning is often stifled and hampered when students are given worksheets and redundant skill based practice sheets over and over again.
One finding that is consistent in all the research articles that I used to support the topic of curriculum and digital learning, is that there is a direct correlation with economics and accessibility to technology for the student.
Schnellert and Keengnenoted the following results in their study: “More than 53% of teachers in public schools who have computers use them or the internet for instruction during class. But in schools whose students are from higher-income families, 61% of teachers with computers use them in class compared to 50% of those teaching in schools with lower-income students”. The same study that found 87% of young people use the Internet also found that 3 million remain without internet access”. So research shows accessibility and equity is an issue for students in public education.
What’s more, teacher professional development training is often limited and not meaningful in ways that teachers can benefit and put training to use. Teachers need to know how to use technology platforms that relate to the skill they teach.
Herold found the following: “That teachers in low income schools were less likely to get professional development in technology resources and how to best integrate technology into the curriculum than their counterparts''.
Schnellert and Keengne noted the following results in their study: “School serving students living in poverty tend to use technology in more traditional memory-based and remedial activities, while schools serving wealthier communities are more likely to focus on communication and expression”.
Another challenge of the research was the discovery of how teachers utilize technology in relationship to the curriculum inside the classroom. There are data points that suggest that when administrators and teachers combine technology and academic planning, there are tremendous amounts of student successes that can be marked. A notable point that Schnellart and Keengwe found was that once the curriculum and technology planning was in place, educators saw the achievement gap close between white and African American students.
Schnellart and Keengwe reported the following: “In 2004, 71% of African American students achieved the level of advanced or proficient in 4th grade reading, while 87% of white students. By 2008, 84% of African American students were advanced or proficient in reading, compared with 93% of white students. The gap narrowed to 9 points''.
Cimbricz and McConn, support the findings above, concluding that, of students in all economic tiers, low income students are least able likely to use software and AP’s to create and innovate mostly because they consistently underperform.
Students from higher income homes also receive more instruction and distance learning opportunities -- about 64% -67% of class instruction time. In the same study, students from low income homes typically tended to academically struggle more often than higher-income students, forcing instruction to focus on remedial skills 90% of the day (with little time for online learning). The focus is on relearning skills from previous grade levels that were missed or not mastered. However, because less time must be devoted to remediation, students from higher economic backgrounds can typically move forward to more advanced assignments and studies which give them many more opportunities to engage in independent learning.
The research they note presents evidence exploring the concern of how government policy, curriculum, and technology are at odds with each other in public education. The problems are underscored in Herold’s article that shows students will get left behind with huge learning gaps based on student income level, teacher learning opportunities, and public funding. Additional research needs to be conducted to find out the long term effects of technology use at school on the brain.
In Cimbricz and McConn article found that when you look at students in all economic tiers, low-income students are struggling with computer accessibility, teacher knowledge, and how technology is utilized. Currently in education, more and more teachers are finding that student achievement happens at a faster rate when students can gain access to their own knowledge through collaborative learning experiences and personalized pathways. Technology gives students the ability to be responsive to learning and actively participate. As time moves on, it is vital that educators understand classrooms are places where students need to feel and desire to be engaged in their own learning experience. Public school reforms should include short and long term goals of how to do away with or streamline the demands of statewide testing and focus more on using technology to eliminate barriers for learning. Research shows that technology can be a great equalizer in education.
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- Herold, B. (2017, June 14). Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn to Use Tech; America's most innovative schools constantly help train teachers to use new technologies, but the barriers to creating such a culture in high-poverty schools can seem insurmountable. Education Week, 36(35), 5. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/apps/doc/A496922516/BIC?u=vic_liberty&sid=BIC&xid=9da3127d
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