For the first time since 2003, 4th graders failed to make any progress in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Why improvement before and none since? The push with NCLB (No Child Left Behind) raised the concept of accountability, measuring and providing consequences for not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress. What this suggests to me is that simply paying attention drives some progress (low hanging fruit) but what’s been going on in education hasn’t gotten at the root cause of our most challenging populations.
Imagine an athlete on the field who breaks a leg. Not a coach alive would admonish the player and demand that they get up and run down the field. The coach, the trainer, the doctors, the parents gather around and figure out how to mend that broken leg and to rehabilitate it to the point where the athlete can perform as before, or better.
Our classrooms are filled with athletes with broken legs.
People are shaped by their genetics, environment and their experiences. Students come to our classrooms without the basic skills – not reading and math – but attention, working memory, auditory sequential processing, visualization – the underlying cognitive skills to succeed.
When a child doesn’t pay attention, we assume they’re unwilling or lazy. We yell at them to get up and run. But who can run with a broken leg? We have to stop sending children to school with broken legs and failing to do anything to repair and rehabilitate them.
If we don’t change our approach, we are committing our children to virtual wheelchairs for the rest of their lives.
Please share your ideas on how to recognize and help students who can’t “get up and run.”