Tuesday, June 19, 2007
A new study tracking the classroom impact of the No Child Left Behind Act in California, Georgia, and Pennsylvania suggests that teachers are adjusting their teaching practices in response to the law—but not always in ways that educators and policymakers might want.
According to the three-year study, which is being conducted by the Santa Monica, Calif.-based RAND Corp., majorities of elementary and middle school science and math teachers in all three states report in surveys that they are making positive changes in the classroom by focusing on their states’ academic standards or searching for better teaching methods.
At the same time, though, sizable percentages of educators are also spending more time teaching test-taking strategies, focusing more narrowly on the topics covered on state tests, and tailoring teaching to the “bubble kids”—the students who fall just below the proficiency cutoffs on state tests.
“This is telling us we’re seeing both positive responses as well as responses that raise some concerns,” said Laura S. Hamilton, the study’s lead author and a senior behavioral scientist at RAND. Her study was among five reports spotlighted here this week at a conference organized by the prominent think tank.
With financing from the National Science Foundation, Ms. Hamilton and her research partners have been surveying teachers, principals, and superintendents in the three study states since 2002, the year the NCLB legislation became law, as well as conducting more in-depth studies in 18 districts spread across those states.
...The findings suggest that educators on the ground are viewing and responding to the federal law in complicated ways. For instance, across all three states, two-thirds or more of superintendents and principals and 40 percent to 60 percent of teachers said that staff focus on student learning had improved as a result of the new accountability pressures, but many also agreed that staff morale had declined.
This from Education Week.