Paca Questions, Kozol Chapters 1-6

Standardized Testing's Impact on Curriculum and Teaching Style

How much of the school year at Paca is devoted to preparations for standardized tests?

To what degree has Paca’s educational mission been compromised by “No Child Left Behind”?

When the actual test date draws near, is the whole school day, even recess time, given over to cramming?

Are students at Paca being taught functional reading, writing and arithmetic skills which will make them useful in a retail job, or are they being taught the foundation skills which will enable them to prepare for college?

How regimented are the class lesson plans?

To what extent do teachers at Paca use scripted lesson plans featuring rote and drill, stimulus and response exercises?

Is a balance struck between demanding efficiency and allowing room for the natural spontaneity of children? How often are kids asked to think creatively instead of answering questions with drilled responses?

Do kids ask good questions?

Are teachers asked to write state educational standards with the proper numbers on the chalkboard for each day’s lesson?

How much time must teachers spend filling out inventories which chart student outcomes for learning objectives?

Do teachers feel comfortable with the lesson plans they teach?

How frequently do teaching jobs at the school turn over?

How are classrooms and hallways decorated at Paca? Do they emphasize student creativity as the measure of achievement, or are state mandated learning objectives emphasized? Do you see performance charts on the walls which inventory ‘student outcomes to determine competencies’?

Are traditional subjects like history, geography, and science still emphasized in the curriculum?

To what extent has the process of education (which encourages risk taking, play, questions, and creative thinking) been sacrificed to test cramming?

Are arts and music programs being reduced in order to focus more time on test prep?

Do teachers or administrators receive bonus pay linked to performance on standardized tests?

Do Paca teachers use ‘token economies’ to ‘incentivize’ learning activities?

Are kids publicly humiliated by design as part of the school curriculum? (Like the public announcement of Reading Levels at PS 65 (73))

Do teachers encourage their students to feel like successful workers in an employment situation?

How much is the culture of the workplace being transplanted into the culture of the classroom?

Does Paca’s curriculum condition children to pursue service economy jobs instead of professions that require advanced degrees?

How do the teachers get kids to line up and move from place to place during the school day? (Are the directions excessively regimented?)

How do the teachers handle discipline in the classroom?


Are you satisfied with your school’s curriculum? (If not, what would be your highest priority for improving the curriculum?)

Does your school have study skill specialists to assist students with reading, writing, or speaking problems?

Does Paca maintain relationships with corporate sponsors? Do these sponsors have any influence on the actual structure of the educational program?

Physical Plant:

Are you satisfied with the current condition of your school’s physical plant? (If not, what are the highest priority challenges you face with upgrading your school’s facilities?)

Have you had problems with plumbing? Is there evidence of water damage? Ceilings? Bathrooms? Mold?

Does your school have air conditioning? Are your windows in good working condition?

Do your students get opportunities to play during recess? Where do they go for recess? (Is that facility in satisfactory condition?)

In your opinion, are your classrooms too crowded? What is the current student/teacher ratio?

Does your school have a library? Can kids take books home with them to read?


What percentage of your students are eligible for the free lunch program?

Do many of your students come to school hungry? Is there an opportunity for them to eat breakfast at school?

How would you describe the physical health of your students? In one of our reading assignments an inner city physician observed the high occurrence of asthma, lead poisoning, iron deficiency (anemia), and otitis (hearing loss). Have you noticed a prevalence of these maladies among your students?

Does your school have a nurse? (How do you handle health emergencies? How do you assist kids who arrive at school with signs of physical abuse?)

Does your school have a counselor? (How do you assist students who show signs of depression?)

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Does your school offer after-school programs?

Does your school offer art, music or drama programs?

Does your school offer organized athletics?

School Funding:

What is the per pupil funding level for students who attend Paca? Is this funding level ‘adequate’ in your opinion?

How does this funding level compare to the county school system?

What is the median teacher salary at Paca?

How experienced are your teachers?

Does Paca receive private funding to supplement the subsidy it receives from the city, state and federal government? (If so, how are these funds spent?)

Does the PTA function at Paca? (If so, does it engage in fund raising activities like bake sales, candy sales, Xmas wrapping sales?)

Pre-K Programs:

How many Paca students come to the first grade from pre-school programs?

Were these one year or two year programs? How long did the sessions last? (half-day? full-day?)

Do your students get to take advantage of Head Start programs in their neighborhoods?

What adjustment challenges do students who have not been in pre-school programs face when they enter the first grade?

We have noted the marked improvement of Paca third graders on the MSA standardized tests. To what do you attribute these higher scores?

How are students chosen to attend your 4th and 5th grade academy?