White Paper- Brianne Waters

1. The Topic Background:
    The No Child Left Behind Act was created in 2001 by George W. Bush. This act was an effort to improve and reform the American Education System. The act sets strict standards of testing that result in a measured adequate yearly progress for certain students, schools, states, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. The act mandates a 100% proficiency in each state by 2013. These performance standards have proved difficult or impossible to meet, and place heavy burdens on school districts and administrators to “make the grade” or suffer severe aid to school cuts and other punishments. As a result, school officials, while pledged to uphold strict standards of academic integrity, have resorted to cheating on the tests. Looking at not only the actual results of these tests and the actions taken by schools regarding this act, one can see that the No Child Left Behind Act may not have as much of a positive effect as once perceived. [This intro is now a bit outdated since it fails to reflect your excellent last source. —DSH]
2. My Working Thesis:
In order to improve our nation’s school system, the No Child Left Behind Act needs to be edited in order to relieve the stress of test scores and benchmarks for students and administrators alike.
 
3. Counterintuitive Note:
The No Child Left Behind Act was created in order to improve our schools and our children. Instead this act has done the opposite. While students are preparing for standardized tests and may be getting the desired results, they are not really learning anything that will help them in the future. Each student cannot be defined by a test score nor can every school, district, teacher, or administrator. [This source says the Act has been detrimental to all, while the later sources concentrate on new disparities. You can make both cases, but be sure to acknowledge their differences. —DSH]
 
4. Some Topics for Smaller Papers:
     -How does our school system compare to the world
     -The implications this testing has on teachers and school administrators alike
     – Schools being forced to cheat in order to meet standards
     – The economics and cost of the No Child Left Behind Act
5.Current State of the Research Paper
     Right now, my research paper is in its early stages. I’m really just doing research now. For example, for my thesis I don’t know whether I want to say change the act or eliminate it completely. Also, I think I can include some of the topics in #4 within my whole paper and also think there are more topics than that but I am just not recognizing them at the moment. I have found lots of information and research for both sides of this argument though so I think it is going OK so far.
 
Annotated Sources
 This article describes the story of a principal in Pennsylvania who encouraged both staff and students to cheat on their standardized tests in order for the school to receive better funding. Since the students’ high grades are a result of cheating, they falsely believe that they are more proficient than they truly are. The school and the principal are now under investigation.
I plan on using this article to show how the No Child Left Behind Act has caused administrators and teachers alike to take such drastic measures as cheating in order to reach the appropriate benchmarks.
 
This article does an in-depth analysis of the No Child Left Behind Act. It studies and compares the testing standards and results from many different states. It closely examines testing before and after the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act with various charts and graphs.
I plan on using this article to show if the act really had any positive effects in test scores. Using results from different states will help prove whether or not the testing is truly standardized across the country.
 
This article states that poverty stricken schools and racially diverse schools have a disadvantage when it comes to the No Child Left Behind Act because proficiency is based on mean scores in which students of these schools cannot reach. The author suggests different levels of accountability for different schools in order to help even the playing ground.
I plan on using this article to show the holes in the No Child Left Behind Act. By standardizing every score and every school, struggling schools tend to fall through the cracks when they are the ones who need the most help. I can use this article to highlight this flaw in the system.
 
This article by an education expert, evaluates the law and consequences of No Child Left Behind. She also examines ideas for changes to improve the legislation. [Says nothing. —DSH]
I plan on using this article to show what No Child Left Behind was supposed to do, and what is has done. This article is a great source because it comes from one who is regarded as an expert in the education field. Her perspective on the subject shines a light on what educators think of this legislation and how it may be changed and improved.
 
This magazine article is one that speaks to the truly counterintuitive note of this whole topic. It discusses how while No Child Left Behind was supposed to help high-poverty areas and minority students, it mostly hurts those exact people. It discusses how it promotes a higher level of education when all it really does is make schools become “test-prep centers”.
I plan on using this article to show just how the No Child Left Behind Act is doing the exact opposite of what it intended to do. The act was created in order to put all students, no matter what background, on an even playing ground and provide them with a higher level of education. In reality, it pushed the minority students and the poor students further down than they were before.
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10 Responses to White Paper- Brianne Waters

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey Brianne! Great start, right up to “caused many issues”! You weaken then, instead of driving right to your point: These performance standards have proved difficult or impossible to meet, and place heavy burdens on school districts and administrators to “make the grade” or suffer severe aid to school cuts and other punishments. As a result, school officials pledged to uphold strict standards of academic integrity have resorted to “cheating on the tests”!

    Your thesis, that No Child Left Behind should be repealed, does not follow naturally from your introduction. Even if the program were magnificently successful in achieving what everyone recognized to be well-conceived benchmarks of academic performance, principles might cheat to achieve their goals. Would we scrap the program because of cheaters?

    Your counterintuitive note is more to the point: the program, you say, doesn’t achieve meaningful improvements in education. It may measure better results on standardized tests, but that’s only meaningful if we define test scores as the best indicator of a good education.

    What the cheating does illustrate is that numbers on paper are the most important goal of certain educators. If they’re willing to perjure themselves to achieve better scores, what other methods do they employ that might not be in the best interests of their students?

    One really important factor you hint at here is how much we’re spending for what we’re achieving. Imagine if the cost to implement a new curriculum, new methodologies, and a thick packet of new accountability and record-keeping regulations added 15% to a school district’s budget, to afford which it slashed essential education programs? That’s a terrible lose/lose.

  2. briannewaters3 says:

    Hey I’m starting to revise this and add my sources. What does the blue and red mean?

    • davidbdale says:

      They’re hints about language that could use your attention, Brianne. You’re not required to keep them, but do ask yourself how the reds and blues might be eliminated or improved.

  3. briannewaters3 says:

    Okay, thanks!

  4. briannewaters3 says:

    This is ready to be graded!

  5. briannewaters3 says:

    Professor Hodges, I am a little unsure of how to form a definitive argument for my topic. I was wondering if you could maybe give me some help to get me in the right direction? Thanks.

  6. davidbdale says:

    That’s surprising, Brianne. To me, there are several points in your White Paper that demand clear definition.

    The act, you say, was an effort “to improve” the American education system. So, what does that mean? One way would be to build all new schools. Another would be to devote the school day to making students happy. Still another would be to graduate students who are perfectly prepared for specific jobs that await them on the outside. Another would be to achieve better test scores, which you and I could do tomorrow for no money by making the tests easier.

    It’s one thing to mandate “100% proficiency” from a state; it’s another thing to spell out precisely what proficiency means; it’s a much more important thing to verify that proficiency, however it’s measured, is actually an “improvement” in the quality of education.

    By examining the standards imposed, and the methods of measuring proficiency, you use a definition essay to argue the merits of NCLB.

    It must be particularly disheartening for principals who were already doing their best to nurture academic curiosity and problem-solving skills in their students to be told that from now on their success would be measured strictly and solely by their students’ ability to parrot back material learned to perform well on standardized multiple-choice tests. Disheartening and dangerous too, because failure to perform on those tests could cost the school crucial federal support.

    If that dilemma is real, it’s caused by being forced to adopt someone else’s definition of academic success. See?

    It’s common to hear social critics say American schools are falling behind the schools in other countries. But again, how is the relative strength of national education systems measured? By test scores, measured how, produced by whom? Do you remember taking an “international test” in high school? Anyway, holding others accountable to carefully define their terms is the nature of good argument; you get the first chance in your definition essay to define yours and question the definitions of others.

  7. davidbdale says:

    You’ve made good revisions since my first set of remarks, Brianne. Keep up the good work.
    Grade Recorded.

  8. briannewaters3 says:

    Professor Hodges, I apologize for my absence from class today and my lack of a Definition Essay. I have been sick the past two days. Also with the Rowan Network being down for a while yesterday, and the support desk fixing an installation problem on my laptop, the past few days have been rough. Would it be ok if I posted my definition essay either tomorrow or before class Thursday? Again I’m really sorry.

    • davidbdale says:

      I’ve had two semesters to learn you’re a very conscientious student, Brianne, and apparently you were still trying to work on your essay last night despite your illness. Of course you can take another day. I hope my comments were helpful. And please don’t apologize. You haven’t harmed me in any way.

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