Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is no child left behind stupid in America?

In the state of Florida, the motto for education is "read by nine". I think that this is too old to expect a child to be able to read. They should start reading as they recognize letters. My children began reading in both English and Arabic by the age of five. I do not think that this is because they are exceptionally smart. I think that they are normal. The United States government wanted to hold schools accountable for their students. They implemented The No Child Left Behind program. This required the students to take state mandated achievement tests and the schools were left responsible for the results. When the program was first introduced, my state was at the bottom of the list in scores. The schools get funding based on their test scores. With the low scores, the state became very aggressive to raise the scores. My question is: "Does designing the whole educational process to pass a test and get funding educate a child?" Many parents have expressed to me that their child's curriculum is completely centered around passing those tests. I think that achievement tests are great to track your child's progress, however the entire teaching process should not be studying for those tests. The tests in my state are only for reading and math. If the education is mainly concentrated on this, what about the social sciences such as History, Social Studies, and Science? Is this really making children smarter and more educated? If you saw this piece on 20/20 you might wonder. It is called Stupid in America. I myself was raised in rural Indiana. I attribute my lack in education due to the environment mostly concentrating on farming. Therefore, when I started college I was very far behind in Math. After taking several remedial courses,I was able to catch myself up to the college level. I have a good friend whose son graduated from highschool last year in urban Orlando Florida. He had the same problem. He also had to start in remedial math. According to the ABC article, this may be a trend. There is another interesting piece of information about education out there. This one is put out by the National Geographic. They did a survey to test the geographic literacy of 18-24 year old individuals. I was really shocked at the results.
Take a look and see what you think. I have to say, that the k12 curriculum does an excellent job with geography. They start having the children in kindergarten learn all the continents and the oceans. At first I though it was a bit to much for a five year old. But now, at 8 and 10 years old, they know all the continents, the oceans, many of the rivers, mountain ranges and many of the countries inside each continent. I also think that being Muslim educates my children about different cultures and countries. I look forward to any responses about this subject. Until I started homeschooling, I never really new the problem existed.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


In the state of Florida, a traditional homeschooler can
be accountable for their work in one of three ways. One
way is to have your child tested along with the public
students. Your child can take the state standardized test.
I would not recommend this unless you prepare your child
with many sample tests before hand. The public school
system works long and hard to prepare their students
exclusively for this test.
Another way to hold your child accountable is to have
them tested with a general standardized test. This would be for
example the Stanford achievement Test. This has to be
given to your child by a professional teacher.
The last way to show your childs academic progress
would to be to maintain a portfolio of all of your child's
work. You would present this to a professional teacher.
The teacher would then evaluate the work . The teacher
may talk with your child or have your child do some
reading or writing. This evaluation determines if your
child is prepared for the next grade.
As you know, I am part of the K12 virtual public school.
Therefore, my children are required to participate in the
state standardized testing. This requirement starts at 3rd
grade. I have to say, that I am not a fan of achievement
tests. I think the preparation for them consumes a lot of
quality educational time. I have friends who have hired
tutors for the children and do nothing but worry about
those tests. K12 has testing booklets through out the
curriculum. They also have a short course that teaches
the child strategies for test taking. I found this helpful.
They had a program on the computer to practice for testing.
The child would take a series of tests on the computer. After they
passed each test they earned blue ribbons. The administration
created competition amongst the students to win prizes. I feel
that the K12 preparation for this test did not detract from our educational experience. My son felt very confident in his ability
to take the test. As a matter of fact, his scores where very high.
I was very happy with this because my children do several hours
a day of Arabic, Quran and Islamic Studies. I had some
reservations that they will be able to keep up with it all.
Alhamdolilah, they are doing great! The virtual school itself
rated number one with scores in the third grade. That left an
impression with me that the k12 curriculum is accountable and
good. I also thought that since it is a "controlled" public
education for my children, if they keep up these high scores,
maybe they will qualify for scholarships or elite programs.
This entry is just another way to share my experiences down
my road of homeschooling. InshAllah you find benefit from it.