Nina Carlson is the current Vice President for Legislation of the Oregon PTA and a lifelong Oregonian. She lives in Washington County, is a budget committee member for Hillsboro School District, and has a sixth grade son at Groner Elementary School.
During the last few years there has been much debate over whether or not No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has led to improvements in education. From my time volunteering in my son’s classroom over the last six years I have noticed a stronger emphasis on testing. Students are spending recesses inside to take tests and using library time to learn testing techniques. The numbers needed to pass the OAKS math and reading tests are posted in all hallways. There are notes to parents stressing they be especially mindful of bedtimes and extracurricular activities during testing weeks. More importantly, I have seen students, teachers and parents demoralized because despite significant improvement and incredible amounts of hard work, their school has been labeled a failing school. This could be because they haven’t raised test scores enough in a certain period of time or a small number of students are not meeting an arbitrary test score number. I have not seen smaller class sizes, more art and music, engaging and interactive science projects, literary circles with classroom discussions of books, or full-length school years. This being said, many admit there were positive aspects to the legislation, especially data that highlights which sub groups (specific student groups) in a school were being underserved, and whose achievement could be raised significantly through specialized interventions and extra attention. (more…)