Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:15 PM

The law initiated in 2002 has been in effect almost 10 years. So what has it done for science teachers? In the NSTA Express email recieved today it stated that in a survey of 300 school districts in 2007 that "Twenty-eight percent of districts reported decreasing time in science instruction by an average of 75 minutes a week." On the other hand the article stated that "The survey found that 58% of districts reported increasing time in English/Language Arts by an average of 141 minutes a week while 45% of districts reported increasing time in math by an average of 89 minutes a week."

So how has this law impacted you and your teaching experiences personally as a science teacher? Let's list some good and some bad aspects for you.
Join in and share.

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101430 Activity Points

Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:04 PM

Unfortunately NCLB has left Science behind in many elementary schools in my state. So much emphasis is being placed on Reading and Math, many of my elementary peers have been told to not teach Science except in 5th grade, which is the first year it is assessed at the state level. Kids don’t see a state assessment again in Science until 8th grade. Needless to say, those of us at middle school are trying to teach 6 years worth of Science in two years. It’s been really tough on us.

Research has shown over and over if kids are engaged in Science, their Reading and Math scores improve because the students are using the skills in an authentic environment that intrigues them by nature. What kid wouldn’t want to hatch a duck, look through a microscope, and hold fascinating critters like lizards and frogs? We’ve gone so far in some districts to all but outlaw “classroom pets” because “they could be dangerous.” For a few, you are allowed to have a “visitor” but only for a few days, at most a week. I knew we had hit a new low when reading a “Diary of a Worm” or “Diary of a Spider”, and several of my middle school kids thought worms did damage to grass and spiders were harmful because they bite. I have kids terrified of hamsters, gerbils, dogs, cats, fish, lizards, rabbits, ducks … all because they have had no exposure.

So many wonderful aspects of Science aren’t being taught because it’s “not tested.” The joke here is the law is not no child left behind, it’s no child left untested.

At the moment, I am having a hard time seeing the good in NCLB. I suppose the best I can think of is the validation of more education and professional development. Since NCLB my National Board Certification was “suddenly” worthwhile.

Sandy Gady
Sandy Gady
42970 Activity Points

Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:07 AM

Adah asks, "So how has this law [NCLB] impacted you and your teaching experiences personally as a science teacher? Let's list some good and some bad aspects for you.
Join in and share."
This is not the first time this discussion forum has mentioned NCLB. It is interesting to read the offerings at these two threads, too:
Highly Qualified Science Teacher…What Does This Mean?
RtI and Science Education
... NCLB is not going away, and it is going to be "redesigned". At the NSTA Legislative News webpage, there is an article by Jodi Peterson entitled, "What's Ahead of No Child Left Behind (ESEA)?
Yes - I think it is important to assess where one stands on this legislation, and it is important to know how it has positively AND negatively impacted science learning. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Sandy. I will be interested in reading others' comments, too.
As I read Jodi's article another type of question came to mind: What are WE going to do to inform our legislators? To impact the policymakers? To influence how the new ESEA will be crafted in order to POSITIVELY impact all aspects of science teaching and learning?
We can't just sit on the sidelines and let policy mold how we teach (been there - done that). We need to help mold policy that will best serve our children. Maybe this discussion thread will expose many of the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of NCLB. Will we individually and collectively give voice to our renewed concerns in time to inform the new legislation on the horizon? Will our legislators hear from us?

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
78588 Activity Points

Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:53 PM

Thank you for your contributions to this discussion. Here are some article from the LC library that might be helpful.

No Child Left Behind Collection
(5 items)
Editor’s Note: Literacy Skills
     -Journal Article
Guest Editorial: Elementary Science Education in the K–12 System
     -Journal Article
No Duck Left Behind
     -Journal Article

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101430 Activity Points

Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:52 PM

Past NSTA President Page Keeley's Guest Editorial eloquently addresses NCLB (in the list of resources that you shared). She says, "Imagine what
the output could be at the end of grade 12 if we all band
together to strengthen our K–12 science education
system to include six years of rigorous, high-quality
elementary science."
How are individuals banding together? It would be exciting to have a 'list' to impart to elementary preservice teachers (and everyone interested in strengthening elem science education) to help guide them toward positively influencing elementary science education.
Page Keeley gave a few suggesstions for such a list:
1. Push for more elementary science professional development
2. Encourage the formation of more elementary science professional learning communities
3. Push to give science a foothold equal to that of reading and math in K- 6.

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
78588 Activity Points

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