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No Child Left Behind

Essay by review  •  October 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  2,648 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,493 Views

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Introduction to this Paper

The No Child Left Behind Act has stacked the deck against schools with special needs. At this point in time with the 2004 elections right around the corner, it seems that this Act is taking a lot of criticism for it's rigid approach to the educational progress of our children today. No Child Left Behind has some wonderful goals and aspirations: to "close the student achievement gap, make public schools accountable, set standards of excellence for every child, and put a qualified teacher in every classroom". (http://www.NCLB.gov) In this paper I will be discussing how this new law closes "the student achievement gap" and setting "standards of excellence for every child" using some of the psychological principles that we have covered in this course. Also I will be addressing some of the flaws that this law has by not addressing some of the theories of psychological developments discussed in our text.

Introduction Part I - Active Learning Approach

"A cornerstone to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is that educators should engage classroom practices that work". The law specifically implies that there is a great importance in choosing instructional approaches that are "based on scientific research and have a proven track record of success". (http://www.ballard-tighe.com) With scientifically based approaches this law hopes to "close the student achievement gap". One of the scientific approaches often used is the "Active Learning" approach. Learning with this approach takes on a view that "learning is most effective when students actively apply new knowledge in meaningful activities that link to their existing knowledge and skill development". (http://www.ballard-tighe.com) This learning scheme or approach adheres to principles in Piaget's theory of cognitive child development.

Summary: Chapter 12 -Cognition: Piaget's Theory

Piaget was biologist and psychologist that is known for "constructing a highly influential model for child development and learning". Piaget's theory is based on the premise that the developing child "builds cognitive structures". These structures are things like mental maps, "schemes, or networked concepts for understanding and responding to physical experiences within a child's environment." Piaget further demonstrates that a child's "cognitive structure increases in sophistication with development". Examples of this is when a child is born it has inborn reflexes to cry or to suck. These reflexes eventually develop into higher and more complex mental activities like controlling the reflexes and using this new control to manipulate surrounding objects in the environment. Reflexes are biological and they are not cognitively understood. The cognitive understanding of concepts doesn't occur until around the age of 7 - 12 years of age. The Piaget's theory identifies four developmental stages and the processes by which children progress through them.

1. Sensor motor Stage (birth - 2 years) - The child, through physical interaction with his or her environment, builds a set of concepts about reality and how it works. In this stage a child still do not know that physical objects remain in existence even when out of sight. They haven't developed object permanence.

2. Preoperational Stage (ages 2 - 7) - The child is not yet able to conceptualize abstractly and needs concrete situations. In this stage language is being learned and the child functions as if the world is centered around them

3. Concrete Operations (ages 7-11) - As physical experience accumulates, the child starts to conceptualize, creating logical structures that explain his or her physical experiences. Abstract problem solving is also possible at this stage. For example arithmetic equations can be solve with numbers, not just with objects.

4. Formal Operations (beginning at ages 11 - 15) - By this point, the child's cognitive structures are like those of an adult and include conceptual reasoning. Abstract thinking is here in this stage.

With these stages of cognitive development, Piaget outlined the principles for building cognitive structures. Active learning as a model or approach uses some of these same principles by "actively" applying new knowledge gain from using "whatever mental maps or cognitive schemes" built up thus far in the child's development. This leads into another set of principles of Piaget that applies to the active learning model, assimilation and accommodation. (http://www.funderstanding.com/piaget.cfm)

These two parts of a child's development is what allows form these cognitive structures talked about previously. When an experience is a "repeated one it is fit easily or assimilated into a cognitive structure so that he or she maintains mental equilibrium". (http://www.funderstanding.com/piaget.cfm) If the experience is new the child loses equilibrium and thus the cognitive structure is altered to accommodate the new conditions. This process allows the child to develop more and more cognitive structures. The structures account for learning and development.

Implications: How Piaget's Theory Impacts Learning

As teachers and educators our curriculums and learning models must be planned in a way that is developmentally (cognitively speaking) appropriate and enhances students logical and conceptual growth. In addition to that we must realize how much of a role experiences or interactions with surrounding environment play in student learning.

Conclusion:

Piaget's theory of child development is cognitively based and doesn't equal biologically based. This means that biologically a child may be 12 years of age, but he or she may not be cognitively. The NCLB Act has a goal of "closing the student achievement gap". (http://www.NCLB.gov) This gap is being measured by age or grade skill knowledge leading to what is called "adequate yearly progress". (http://www.NCLB.gov) There are test given yearly in math, reading and soon science to measure this progress. According to Piaget some children may not be cognitively ready for the type of assessment that these exams are measuring. So teachers feel the need to teach for the test. This creates a repeated experience therefore after time the practice of the test gets assimilated

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