I’ve ranted many times in this space about the fact that the standards for being "highly qualified" under No Child Left Behind are are not high; they’re minimal at best. A writer in the Detroit News has some very eloquent points to make on the art of teaching and what it takes to be a highly qualified teacher. Here are two bits of the article that go right to the heart of the art and science of teaching and learning.
The education myth that is still strong, despite all that we know now about the intricacies of learning, is that somehow learning is a straight line: a teacher teaches, a student learns. Actually, education is a slow, messy, zigzag process.
Teaching well is important, but students have to want to learn. No one can do it for them.
In another opinion piece from the weekend related to NCLB, a Florida writer makes the very valid point that testing isn’t learning. A slice from his article that stands out.
Under Gov. Bush, however, the test has become not a helpful diagnostic tool but a sword of Damocles, dangled over schools. The FCAT serves as the basis for a misleading school grade, which can lead to bonus money or punishment. Lacking, as the new scores show, is any effective method – backed up by sufficient money – of identifying students who are having problems and helping them before they face the prospect of repeating third grade or failing to earn a diploma.
A truly innovative education plan would target problem readers as early as possible – these scores come a month before school ends – and give them as much chance as possible to succeed. This far into the FCAT, it would be stunning to find that teachers can’t teach better each year to a test. But is teaching to a test education?