No Child Left Behind…But Children Kept Behind?

While I respect the concept of “”, I have to say I’m disappointed by the regulations that apply that actually end up keeping children behind that should be allowed to advance forward, while advancing forward those that might need a little extra individual help.

When I was a kid in , the whole “No Child Left Behind Act” wasn’t even a glimmer in someone’s imagination.   I have a ‘late’ birthday based on ‘school requirements (December), and since I didn’t turn 5 before the start of school, I had to wait until the following year to actually start Kindergarten.  I was lucky – since there was no ‘regulation’ in place at the time, and since I went to a small school where the Kindergartners and First Graders shared the same classroom (and no, it wasn’t a one-room schoolhouse like in Little House on the Prairie – there were at least 20 First Graders and 10 or more Kindergartners in the room at the time), my teacher noticed that during the First Graders study time when us Kindergartners were supposed to be playing quietly in the back of the room, I usually went back to my desk and studied with the First Graders.  (Mostly because I either gave all the toys I was going to play with to others, or the other kids took them away, so instead of sitting there being bored, I sat and got educated instead).

Because my Kindergarten teacher was very observant to these actions, after two weeks of me doing First Grade work (and speeding through Kindergarten work effortlessly), she decided to call a meeting with me, my parents, and the principal of the school.  The decision was made to advance me into First Grade immediately.  I was in Kindergarten for two whole weeks.  Sure that made me the youngest kid in my class throughout the rest of my years of school, but I so appreciated the opportunity not to be kept behind on a technicality because of my late birthday.  I would have been bored, since they didn’t have the option of a Gifted Program at that time.

Now I could be interpreting this all wrong, but it seems to me that now that the whole “No Child Left Behind Act”  is in place, schools don’t tend to make exceptions to exceptional students and let them move ahead early (because regulations prohibit them from doing so), even when they’re more than ready to do so.  Instead, they’ve implemented the “Gifted Programs” for those students that need the extra challenge in order not to be bored by school, and by the same token, those that might need some extra help get put in a special program to help with their learning needs.

has the unfortunate mode of that ‘late’ birthday (November), so she had to wait until the following year to start school, even though she was more than ready.  I wrote a post a couple of years ago when she was in Kindergarten, Am I the Reason My Child is Bored With Kindergarten? Since I had spent time with her teaching her early, she already knew the things she was supposed to be learning in Kindergarten.  Luckily her Kindergarten teacher recognized that, and gave her First Grade work to do in order for her not to be bored.  Which then exacerbated the issue of boredom and already knowing what she was going to learn in First Grade when she hit First Grade last year.

While the school she’s at normally doesn’t test kids for the Gifted Program until they’re in First Grade, they decided to do the testing at the end of her Kindergarten year.  She ‘missed’ the requirements of the Gifted Program by one point.  One point!  Regulations schmegulations.  When she started First Grade last year, we were still in the same scenario of her being bored, since she had already been doing First Grade work the year before.   She lucked out yet again, her First Grade teacher coordinated with the Gifted Program teacher and gave her Third Grade work to keep her interested in learning.  They ran out of time to re-test her for the Gifted Program last year, so the first few days of Second Grade this year, they re-tested her.  And she passed with flying colors (this time she was more confident during the timed tests and rattled off answers instead of keeping mum if she wasn’t sure of the answer – she didn’t want to give a wrong answer, so she wouldn’t answer at all, thus negating the whole ‘timed’ testing mode when she took the tests in Kindergarten.)

While I appreciate the opportunity she’ll have with the Gifted Program and the fun projects she’ll get to work on this year, one of the things they’re also doing is ‘replacing’ some of her work with more advanced work.  Like giving her 4th Grade reading to do, 4th Grade Math and 4th Grade spelling.  So how does that really work?  She’ll be doing advanced learning until….when?  Since she’s doing work two grades above her physical grade, where will that leave her when she gets to 10th or 12th grade?  Bored with school?  Not getting to stretch her brain to its limits and beyond?  Why not just move her up at least one grade so she’s still with kids ‘her age’, but learning at a slightly higher level?

Seems to me there should be some compromise between the “No Child Left Behind” regulations and kids’ learning abilities.  I feel most bad for the teachers whose hands are tied by those same regulations, and kids getting ‘passing’ grades when they don’t deserve it, basically pushing them through the school system without actually giving them the they deserve or need, and other kids being held back in spite of themselves.

What are your thoughts on how Education is regulated now vs. how it was when we were in school?  How do you interpret or view the whole “No Child Left Behind Act”?

This Educational was brought to you in part by the educated Jen, who herself has one smart cookie for a daughter and is Sprite’s Keeper.  Stop by and check out the other Spinners – you might get some extra education.  (When I saw that Jen had assigned ‘Education’ as this weeks Spin Cycle, I was elated.  It’s a subject that’s been mulling in my brain for quite sometime, so now I get to let it spew forth.  Thanks, Jen!)

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About Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)

After 20+ years in the Corporate World and years of infertility, Princess Nagger made her miraculous appearance and I chose to become a SAHM and WAHM - I love every minute of it. We added Little Dude through adoption, adding a whole new dimension to our family. We have an eclectic mix of pets: dogs, cats, birds and fish. I love to cook and try new techniques to turn ordinary into extraordinary. Crafty by nature, I take on a lot of unique projects and enjoy seeing the end result. My favorite, of course, is making my own wine out of fruits and grapes. Experiments with water currently underway. I blog about the joys of parenting, family, friends, life, love and anything else that strikes my fancy. I do enjoy doing reviews and giveaways for products I use, believe in and can stand behind.
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14 thoughts on “No Child Left Behind…But Children Kept Behind?

  1. (raises hand from the other country) I know about this, two mom’s from my mommy lists have told me they have had their kids tested during the summer to be moved ahead a grade. I’ll link them here? different States but it might help.

  2. My oldest son hated school – simply loathed it. I wish more than anything I’d been able to homeschool him (of course, 20 years ago, homeschooling wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now; I don’t think I even knew what homeschooling was). At any rate, fast forward to middle school – 7th grade – when the kid is doing horribly in every class but History (which he was acing). I got a phone call from the school counselor saying they wanted to put him in Special Education classes. I asked her if she’d actually spoken to him, and she said “Briefly.” I asked if she thought he needed to be in Special Ed, and she said yes. She then told me they couldn’t enter him in Special Ed without my consent.

    Alarm bells went off all over the place, so I told her I was extremely reluctant to give my consent – his problem wasn’t his ability to learn, but the fact that school left him unchallenged. He already had enough trouble with school, I didn’t want to stigmatize him with being in Special Ed to boot. She started to argue with me, saying they needed to test him, so I told her to go ahead and test him, then let me know what the test results were.

    Six weeks later, we got a call. He tested average in math (the bane of his existence – mine too – has always been math), above average in science and history and on a college level in English, reading and vocabulary. In the 7th grade. Did they do anything with this information? No, they did not – they wouldn’t even talk to me about it. (In fact, after she imparted this information to me, she hung up on me before I could ask her any questions.)

    All sorts of kids are getting left behind.

  3. I actually think what you’re school is doing is the best situation. As a teacher, I saw a lot of kids who were pushed ahead in elementary school and then once they hit middle or high school started to flounder. It was really hard to tell them at that point that they needed to drop down a level, or repeat a grade. I think this makes almost all schools reluctant to push kids ahead.

    And don’t worry. There is always a “gifted” program. Right through grade 12. In HS she’ll be able to take AP classes that will give her college credit. It’s a bonus.

  4. When my kids were little, and we were living in Florida at the time, they failed both of my daughters. We moved back up north.
    I immediately had my daughters tested at the new school, so that they could advance to the next grade. I fought like an s.o.b. to get them pushed ahead. The board members at the new school, who were becoming a little afraid of me, decided to let my daughters advance on the condition that they could not fall below a B in any subject. They were both honor roll students.
    All of my kids graduated with honors, and are on the dean’s list in college.
    The moral of this story is:
    Fight like h*ll to get what you want and don’t take no for an answer. There’s always a way to get around a rule, and there’s no such thing as a dead end.

  5. No child left behind is an idea that is ok on paper but bad in practice. Teacher teach to the dumbest kids in class and then only so the test score come out well. I’m not a fan of no child left behind.

  6. Kyooty pointed me here – because I’m not a regular reader, I apologize if there’s backstory I’m missing. Plus a lot of accommodations are state-specific (or even district-specific), so my experiences are probably of limited practical value.

    My 7yo (May birthday) had a full grade skip from 1st to 3rd. We live in Oklahoma, and state law mandates kids be allowed to test out of subjects, with the district required to do either subject acceleration or a grade skip (for kids who tested out of an entire grade of work). It’s kind of a double-edged sword, because the bar for passing is very, very high. But because it’s a state law, there’s no pushback from the district. (And going back to NCLB, the bar for passing is so high that there’s virtually no chance that the kid will be less-than-proficient on the testing, even with the skip.)

    Honestly, if your DD is getting subject acceleration for core subjects, I’m not sure a grade skip would necessarily be a better answer. The reason that we wanted a skip was because subject acceleration would have been a pull-out. So she’d have spent some part of each day in a 2nd grade class, and some in a 3rd grade class, without really being part of either one, and we felt the social issues there would be worse than just making a clean break. Had we had the option of in-class subject acceleration, or if pullouts had been common (so she’d be one of 2-3 kids in her classroom pulled out), we likely would not have tested for a full skip.

    With respect to high school, the high school available to us has enough AP-level electives to fill an extra year. And we have the option of dual enrollment (free to us community college classes, taken in lieu of high school work already completed). Because it’s dual enrollment, she wouldn’t be a transfer student when applying to “real” college, but she would have challenging work throughout her high school experience. Or she could do what I did, and apply to college after her junior year. Or she could do what I did when I was wait-listed at my first-choice college, and spend her senior year abroad. There are lots of things a bright kid can do with an extra year of high school.

    I will say that if DD needs acceleration again, we are extremely unlikely to consent to a second full skip, preferring subject acceleration. I would have no problem sending a just-turned-17yo off to college across the country. I would be very hesitant to send a just-turned-16yo off to college across the country. I see keeping the option of another year at home as having significant value.

    If you’d like to lobby your district for a skip, you might want to check out the Iowa Acceleration Manual (available on Amazon). It’s the bible for grade-skips, with a comprehensive checklist that helps you determine whether your kid is a good candidate for a full skip. (My gut feeling, from what you’ve posted, is that yours would be.) We didn’t bother to follow it diligently (didn’t get formal IQ testing – our school uses OLSAT for gifted, which isn’t an IQ test), because it wouldn’t have made any difference in the decision-making process, but it gave us lots of good things to think about.

    Feel free to email me privately if you’d like! 🙂

  7. Our daughter needed extra help and it took one brave teacher to bring it up. Even when we went to the meetings they could not say she needed help because too many parents will sue if they call their child slow!!! She got extra help and it was awesome but we had to be the ones asking for it.
    There needs to be a better line drawn.

  8. My son has always been all over the place, and (luckily?) due to health problems, he now attends a charter school that lets him proceed at his own pace. Additionally, in CA, High School students, with the consent of their counselor, can attend Community College for free (yay!). So he doesn’t get bored, gets to work at his own pace, and if he got off his lazy butt, can earn college credits while in HS.

    My daughter is on the other spectrum. Just switched from private to public (a very good public, but still below private school standards) and she’s bored because some of the work, especially math, she already knows. We missed the testing date for GATE by a few months. Since she’s so frustrated, she’s doing horribly. I’m trying to convince her that if she wants to skip, she has to ACE everything, no matter how bored she is. … It’s not working. I went through the same thing. Hoping we can test her early. I was also GATE (Gifted and Talented). If not, I’ll probably be homeschooling her for a few years like I did her brother.

    Above all, be a proactive parent in your child’s education. It really is up to you to make sure she’s not left behind.

  9. I’m not even sure how I got into Kindergarten at the age of 4, being that my birthday is in late September and the cut off date is usually Labor Day or Sept 5, but I do remember being extremely bored in English or Math. My teachers would harass me all the time about my lack of interest and call my parents in for conferences on how “Jenny isn’t applying herself.” Then they tested me and realized I excelled in Math, English, and Reading. The only reason they didn’t have a problem with me reading was because we were allowed to read whatever we wanted after an assignment was done and I lived for those moments. Once the administrators knew, I was placed into more appropriate classes.
    I think PN, especially at this age, is going to do so well with her new environment. Keep us updated on how she’s doing!
    You’re linked!

  10. You have gotten some great comments!! I’m not sure why your school will not put her up one grade but I do know from experience that sometimes children that are gifted do get behind thus catching up with the other kids. Does that make sense? My oldest daughter hated being the youngest one in the class… her birthday was in October so she started school early because the cut off date was the middle of October. So that might be something to think about……….I never new this until recently. We (teachers) never want a child to be bored and really don’t like that word. We feel there is always something they can do ……….for example instead of writing one or two sentences they could write a story. Being pulled out will also help children do more advanced things that the other children are not doing. I wish you the best of luck!! It’s so hard to know exactely what our children need. Their needs seem to change from day to day.

  11. Great spin! My youngest had a horrible firsst grade teacher who refused to test him for the gifted program…she deemed him fidgety etc… the second grade treacher had him tested immediately. Off he went to the special gifted school in our district. They also have a middle gifted school. Our high school district is set up so that different school specialize with different magnet programs (like science, art and dance, math) and a couple have baccalaurette programs. I think our area is fortunate to have an educational system in place to meet these needs. I hope yours has what your daughter will need in the future.

  12. Here, the public school system is no longer allowed to fail a kid, due to the ‘social stigma’ of being ‘left behind’. They haven’t yet addressed the ‘social stigma’ of kids that are graduating high school without being able to READ.