No Child Left politically unmanipulated January 23, 2010 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I unintentionally derailed a really good thread about involving inmates in arts programs to combat recidivism by talking about how resistance to inmate programs is partially fueled by community frustration with collapsing opportunities for art in schools. The flash phrase was No Child Left Behind. So, can we bring the NCLB rage here and get back to talking about art in prisons there?
posted by toodleydoodley to MetaFilter-Related at 9:59 AM (18 comments total)

I don't understand the NCLB hate. Either:
1) Art instruction does not help children grow and learn reading basics, in which case it will not benefit from merit pay, and time would be better spent learning reading
2) Art instruction does help children grow and motivates them to learn in other areas, in which case the data will support quality art teachers

If you've seen the NCLB assessments, they are not tricky and based on gaming multiple choice. They are simple questions getting at basic reading comprehension.
The goal is not to get great scores like the SAT; the goal is to get a low failure rate.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:38 AM on January 23 [+] [!]


I see your point, but I think the contention by teachers that merit pay will be unfairly assessed looks more like this:

At ABC corporation, Bertie's team makes bottles and Charlie's team makes cans. Alphonse, the company president, tells both Bertie and Charlie that bottle and can-making are vital activities, but only bottle-making is subject to quality and proficiency testing at the end of each fiscal year.

Because bottle-making is scrutinized, Charlie's team is required to cross-train in bottle-making, even though everyone seems to agree that cans are culturally as important as bottles. Charlie's team makes bottles for approximately 20 percent of each can-making day.

At the end of the fiscal year, when testing results are back, Bertie's team is certified proficient in bottle-making and Bertie and his entire team get raises and bonuses. Charlie's team, despite their vital role in securing this year's certification, get bupkes, but at least they are still allowed to make cans.

Does that clear it up?
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2010


or not. Mods feel free to close this thread as the original ship seems to have righted itself and nobody really cares about NCLB as much as I thought.
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:19 AM on January 23, 2010


It's a pretty boring day. Try to best this.
posted by gman at 11:28 AM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


too late, gman - should have memailed me. now you've gone and polluted my pristine self-thread. gee, I bet you talk about pitchers having a perfect game going, too. I bet people touch wood when they see you coming. you're a one-man black-cat-across-the-path wave.

sheesh.

I mean, thanks for coming in here to cheer me up as I die...{/}
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:42 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I heard there's a movie that says 911 might have been an inside job
posted by philip-random at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, I'm pretty sure the plane came from outside.
posted by flatluigi at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ridiculously cute little girl calls 911.
posted by gman at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2010


Art instruction does not help children grow and learn reading basics

Um, art instruction can do a lot of things. It can certainly help with math; kids learn spatial relationships and think about how things relate to each other. In reading, they can use it to help them visualize things which is indeed part of reading and one of the skills that good readers have and something that kids in a lot of schools failing to meet their goals don't do. Art also provides an outlet for kids who are less good at reading and math which helps their self-esteem and DOES help with school. It can also assist their observational skills, which is important for life as well as school, and can generally be a way to aid intellectual development, which is, um, really really important.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:07 PM on January 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


My mobile phone pocket called 911 once. Really embarrassing.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:09 PM on January 23, 2010




Burhanistan: "My mobile phone pocket called 911 once. Really embarrassing"

Actually in many (most?) cities they interpret any random series of digits as a 911 call. I got dragged out of bed at 4 am once because my room-mate fell alseep with the land-line phone in his bed and rolled over onto it. Also I have gotten phone calls from 911 because my pants were too tight and phone buttons got pushed from stretching or leaning in a certain way (of course first the magic "unlock phone" sequence of buttons had to get pushed). I actually talked to the operator who told me that any random call is treated as an emergency.

This must be helpful for those relying on a trained animal to dial 911 on their behalf.
posted by idiopath at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2010


At the end of the fiscal year, when testing results are back, Bertie's team is certified proficient in bottle-making and Bertie and his entire team get raises and bonuses. Charlie's team, despite their vital role in securing this year's certification, get bupkes, but at least they are still allowed to make cans.

Does that clear it up?


No. I don't want to impose on somebody else's metaphor, but we don't agree that art outcomes (can making) are just as important as reading outcomes (bottle making). We are legitimately prioritizing math and reading improvement and care about other subjects because they help those. Under the basic scenario of merit pay assessed by standardized tests, teachers of kids who improve more than their peers get bonuses and teachers of kids who fail to improve as much as comparable students get remedial training or fired.

It doesn't matter what subject they teach. If they teach art, and kids with good art teachers do better, then that will show up in the data. Same thing for history teachers.

It seems entirely possible that teacher quality in some subjects matters less on the outcomes we're interested in; good and bad art teachers could result in about the same level of reading improvement. Then we're doing the right thing to incentivize good teachers to teach something else.

This is non-informative on whether having art class matters. Merit pay is about the quality of teachers in a subject, not if you should have that subject. You assess whether or not to have art class at the between school level or with sub-experiments within schools. That decision is about principal quality. They should get merit pay (or fired) based on across school comparisons .

Some kids, however--especially at this level--will not do well on tests. This is doubly true of the reading improvement class, when success is getting a kid who reads at a third- or fourth-grade level to read at a sixth-grade level. He's still underperforming as a ninth grader, so I, technically, have failed as a teacher--according to the standardized tests.

He still improved. You're measured on improvement compared to his peers under other teachers. The school is still failing, not you. You would have little opportunity for merit pay teaching all 12th graders who already pass the test, since they have no room to improve within the scale that's measured.

Um, art instruction can do a lot of things
That's why I gave an either / or. I don't know if art helps or if the quality of your art teacher helps, but there is no reason to think that the data generated from testing can't tell you the answer.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:49 PM on January 23, 2010


Actually in many (most?) cities they interpret any random series of digits as a 911 call.

Hey, "2 year old hero" that appeared on the local news because you called 911 and saved your mom... YOU'RE A PHONY! A BIG FAT PHONY!
posted by qvantamon at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2010


Under the basic scenario of merit pay assessed by standardized tests, teachers of kids who improve more than their peers get bonuses and teachers of kids who fail to improve as much as comparable students get remedial training or fired.

but that doesn't say anything about a) whether or not they're good or bad teachers in their subject (art) - only that they're helpful in raising students' reading abilities or b) the extent to which their contribution to reading/math scores matters, percentage-wise, compared with subject teachers.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2010


oh, and "get up n get get, get down/911 is a joke in your town!"
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:55 PM on January 23, 2010


Another huge problem with NCLB, aside from the arts issues, is that the gifted and acceleration programs are being cut and kids who are already ABOVE the (low) "standard" are no longer pushed or challenged. Teachers are having to focus all time and effort on the under performing students. Any child above that line has a large possibly of being left to coast. It's dinner / bath time here in pearlybob land but I wrote a grad paper last year on the effects of NCLB on the gifted. I can cite later if anyone would like them.
posted by pearlybob at 3:34 PM on January 23, 2010


but that doesn't say anything about a) whether or not they're good or bad teachers in their subject (art) - only that they're helpful in raising students' reading abilities

You're right in a sense in that it doesn't say how much art the kids learned. You're wrong in that the whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that learning art helps in other areas. I think that the public is in general with me in not caring how objectively good at flute or drama the students are, just how much of the side benefits we get. From a social justice perspective I am 100% willing to ignore objective degree of art attainment as a trade off for literacy.

or b) the extent to which their contribution to reading/math scores matters, percentage-wise, compared with subject teachers.

I think that it does. Imagine a large school where each art teacher's students are spread out among many other teachers of literature, math, history, science, etc. Looking at the pupils of art teacher A and comparing them to art teacher B, the goodness / badness of the other subject teachers should average out. If for some reason art teachers are strongly correlated to other subject teachers (you have a single cohort of students which rotates through teachers) then that teaching unit will sink or swim as a team. How the merit pay should be split up within that unit is something that districts would have to decide, and if they're any good they would look at evidence from places where art teacher effects were identifiable.

the gifted and acceleration programs are being cut and kids who are already ABOVE the (low) "standard" are no longer pushed or challenged

I agree. I think that this is unfortunate but necessary. States which do not provide a minimal education to all their citizens do not get to focus on pampering the gifted. I would very much like to see gifted education and challenging goals become the norm, but I can easily see the ethical case for dedicating resources to the disadvantaged first.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:55 PM on January 23, 2010


I think that the public is in general with me in not caring how objectively good at flute or drama the students are, just how much of the side benefits we get. From a social justice perspective I am 100% willing to ignore objective degree of art attainment as a trade off for literacy.

Interesting, that; my kids (four years old) only sit down and try to write on their own if they've finished a set of drawings and want to assemble them into a storybook -- they write the story they were thinking of when they drew the pictures, with our help. We didn't encourage that behavior, but we encouraged (and encourage) drawing, and we read to them out of storybooks; presumably by showing them storybooks and encouraging them to express themselves through pictures, they've realized they can also express themselves with accompanying words. I wonder how much of that literacy benefit comes out of art classes.

In short, for us personally, we don't care about the quality of the art, just the enthusiasm with which they exercise their artistic abilities -- yet it has led directly into increasing their enthusiasm for becoming more literate.
posted by davejay at 2:34 PM on January 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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