We have a winner in the No Child Left Behind sweepstakes!
The ultimate goal of NCLB, of course, is for every child to
learn how to take standardized tests “attain proficiency in reading and math” by the year 2014.
At one school in Maryland, the target has already been met. All 184 third and fourth graders at Ocean City Elementary School passed the state tests last spring.
So, what’s this school’s secret?
The school’s administration, faculty and parents attributed the success to a campuswide approach that is unusually structured, relentless and consistent. Here, more than at most schools, classrooms look and sound very alive, and very alike.
Unusually structured. Relentless. Consistent. Very alike. Very Stepford-like?
Teachers and students at Ocean City work according to an ever-expanding list of norms, a document that now runs to five pages. Conceived by Kordick and padded with contributions from staff members, the norms include broad directives about perseverance and choice as well as specific rules: Never stop working until the time is up. Greet others with “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon.”
Not to mention that student assignments “often mirror the structure of the statewide test, and students are assessed regularly on different areas of the statewide curriculum”.
I’m not exactly sure how to put it into words, but there’s something about the description of the learning process at this school that bothers me.
Are these kids learning? Or just learning to follow orders and take tests?