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.