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Published May 23, 2011, 10:30 PM

Local Educators Have Suggestions for 'No Child' Fix

Teacher: we're measuring people to death
Lawmakers are having trouble agreeing on how to fix No Child Left Behind. They say they might not make the summer deadline. If they ask for the opinions of educators in the Crookston Public School district, they'd get a few suggestions.

Local educators have their own ideas of how a revamped No Child Left Behind Act should be structured. President Obama has set an August deadline for changes.

Lawmakers are having trouble agreeing on how to fix No Child Left Behind. They say they might not make the summer deadline. If they ask for the opinions of educators in the Crookston Public School district, they'd get a few suggestions.

Teaching and farming aren't the same job, but at least one principle applies to both.

"If I'm raising cattle and I want my cattle to gain weight, I don't get there by weighing them more often," Crookston teacher David Davidson said.

Davidson says, obviously, you feed the cattle more. And when it comes to teaching, students don't learn more by taking more tests.

"We're measuring people to death. Instead, free up our computers from test-taking and let's do some teaching with them," Davidson said.

His words of advice for legislators who are trying to overhaul the decade-old No Child Left Behind Law. Introduced during the Bush administration, the goal was to make kids proficient in reading and math, putting pressure on schools to make AYP, or adequate yearly progress, or lose funding.

Three years from that goal, teachers say it has just turned students into test-takers.

"They're not going to advance to the same level," Davidson said.

"It's not helping me learn. I forget it all. It's just memorizing a lot of stuff," Crookston High School freshman Nate Erickson said.

President Obama has called for changes. While the law is being looked at in Congress, Republicans and Democrats can't agree on whether a federal law or state discretion is best when it comes to our children's educations.

One superintendent knows what he would like to fix.

"We need to have local control and use multiple measures," Crookston superintendent Wayne Gilman said.

Gilman says he'd like to see less testing, leaving it up to the school district to evaluate student performance, because he says teachers know their students better than a bubble sheet does.

"We can keep track of them pre-K through 12th and identify their growth at each grade level and all the way through. When it's only one measure, it doesn't give a true picture of how the child is doing," Gilman said.

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