Educators Strive to Provide Students a Well-Rounded Education
Post written by Matthew Swift and originally featured in Policy Priorities.
Teachers, students, and administrators are aware that any major changes to ESEA could have a huge effect on their school districts. Issues such as common core state standards and waivers are among the many policies that could be affected. Even without reauthorization, ESEA (currently known as No Child Left Behind, or NCLB) affects districts across the nation in numerous ways. Despite the issues ESEA presents, educators are still doing their part to ensure students get a good education.
"When we look at the mandates of NCLB and the testing requirements and the proficiency thresholds ... we're all in the same boat right now," says Matt McClure, superintendent of the Cross County School District in Arkansas. "Every year it becomes more and more difficult, but at the same time we've got to keep striving and do what we know is best for students, and that is to prepare them to be successful when they get out [of school]."
McClure is in charge of a rural school district with a high level of poverty, and he sees the shortcomings his district faces trying to get to keep up with NCLB standards. Despite the difficulties that he and many other educators face in trying to get students up to proficiency, McClure says his teachers never stop trying to push their students to strive for excellence and to give students the best education possible.
In addition to teaching students math and English, which is what ESEA focuses on, McClure believes that a student needs to learn every subject to get a sound and full education. He makes sure his teachers strive to provide lessons in all areas, so students are better prepared for life after schooling.
"When we're talking about preparing students to be successful in life, it's not the end-all," says McClure about teaching more than the core subjects that measure proficiency. "I don't think we've ever looked at it and said that how well a student does on a standardized test is indicative of how well they will do in life .... It can't be just about math and literacy. It's got to be about science, social studies, and the arts."
McClure believes that if students are taught multiple topics, then they might be,not just better learners, but also able to better process information. If students are taught only what is required for testing, then they will not be as prepared as their peers when they enter the real world. When they have the capability to analyze and use their knowledge in real-life situations, then the educators did their jobs correctly.
There are changes that need to be made to ESEA, says McClure, but he wants his educators to keep trying to provide a great education for their students despite the obstacles they face. He thinks that the lack of changes, ESEA reauthorization, implementing common core standards, and how schools use waivers all present difficulties, but in the end, if the system does not change or educators don’t give their all, then the students will fail—which McClure says is the "biggest travesty of all."
"Legislators have to put aside their political differences," McClure says about reauthorization. "They have to look at how they can fix this and how we change it to what’s best for students in the classroom now."