Deliberation Reflection: A Better Penn State of Mind

On Friday, February 23rd, I gathered around in a packed semi-circle with my fellow Penn State peers amidst the book shelves in Webster’s around 6:45 PM. Chatting about the deliberation we were all attending, I was extremely interested to participate in the discussion about mental health on campus. Titled “A Better Penn State of Mind: A Discussion of Mental Health Issues and Programs at Penn State,” the deliberation was not only well executed and attended, but also well received by the audience, making for an extremely productive discussion throughout the introduction, three approaches, and conclusion.

One of the aspects of the team’s deliberation that intrigued me the most was their idea of requiring mental health online modules similar to Penn State SAFE and AWARE. These modules would serve as an educational onboarding to different warning signs and coping mechanisms with mental health, and I couldn’t believe how simple of a requirement that would be. When surveying the audience for their experiences with mental health, almost everyone in the room offered that they, or someone they know, has been affected by mental health. With that said, mental health matters are just as prevalent as those related to sexual assault/harassment and drinking. Requiring the modules would allow Penn State students the opportunity to learn about and access resources that would help maintain good mental health.

This idea of access to resources that would help maintain good mental health was another point that surprised me during the deliberation. I was shocked by how many people in the audience that weren’t aware of CAPS’s location, resources, etc. In addition, no one in the audience was aware of a free, unlimited visit counseling resource on campus called the CEDAR Clinic, located in the Cedar Building behind Chambers Building. I became aware of this counseling service through the College of Education, because I give tours to families, so I learned about the resources within Cedar. In addition, I decided to take advantage of the services offered by Cedar this semester, when I was referred to their services by someone from CAPS. With that said, I was happy to be able to offer this information about the CEDAR Clinic in the deliberation, because no one in attendance knew about it.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself at the “A Better Penn State of Mind: A Discussion of Mental Health Issues and Programs at Penn State” deliberation. I wasn’t expecting much of a turnout on a Friday night, but it ended up being a really great time collaborating, discussing, and sharing ideas and experiences about mental health at Penn State throughout the deliberation. Kudos to this team for their excellent preparation, execution, and moderation, which made for a productive, successful deliberation in the Penn State community.

Sex-Education: Post #2

With the intention of seeking and reading two different perspectives with regards to sex-education in public schools, I wanted to be able to strengthen my ability to put myself in the shoes of others. At the deliberation, community members will be present, but their presence does not simply mean that they will agree with everything our team presents for discussion. In order for a discussion to have value and to be productive and effective, it’s necessary to welcome a variety of ideas and consider ones that stray from the norm.

With that said, in Beyond the birds and bees: Where’s the sex ed in Pennsylvania schools? the author, Margarita Cambest, presented an angle that supports the integration of a more comprehensive sex-education program. According to the Planned Parenthood Keystone president, Melissa Reed, who Cambest interviewed for the article, the women’s health organization supported a bill that would have required comprehensive sexual health education be taught in all of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, but the Senate bill failed in committee.”

However, an article posted by the American Life League offered a drastically different opinion about the role of sex-education in public school. According to the American Life League, “a school is not the place for sex education. Proper sex education for a child is dependent on the actual mental maturity of the child. Sex education programs can often times lead to the deformation of a child’s conscience.”

Despite the difference in viewpoints, both articles discuss a common entity: Planned Parenthood. If community members are divided at the deliberation, I think explicitly stating some factors that join us would help strengthen the trust and quality of the conversation. At the end of the day, we all want all of our children to have the quality education that they deserve. To accomplish this, we have to recognize and appreciate differences and similarities to do what is right for our kids.

Deliberation Post One

Deliberation Title: Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed), Baby

Description of Deliberation: In our deliberation, we will be discussing the role of sexual education in today’s schools. Sex education is required by law to be taught at some point in middle school and high school, but how effective is this education, and is it even teaching the right topics? We will be exploring three key points on the issue of sexual education. These three points are the medical misconceptions that young adults may have regarding sex, the social stigmas behind sexuality, and the possible outcomes of sexual respect and lack of sexual respect.

Your Role(s): I’m a member of the mini team for the Team Overview.

What You’re Currently Working On: With a rough draft of the welcome and introduction written, I’m currently working on developing this aspect of our mini-team’s role. In addition, I’m continuing to research the topic of sex education in schools to have a better understanding of the subject. With that said, I’ll also be working on the personal stake and post-deliberation aspects of the deliberation. Carly, Julia, and I have been working on this together, so I would consider all of this a team effort. In addition, I want to ensure that all of the information being gathered from each group is well represented by what we’re writing for our part, so I will monitor the other Google Docs in our folder.

This I Believe Podcast Script

Growing up, I was always that kid who absolutely loved school. In first grade, I cut the tulips from the flower beds at my house to give to my teacher as a token of gratitude. On the first day of summer after sixth grade, I went back to school to see if any of the teachers needed help cleaning up their rooms. I was always trying to express my love for school, learn as much as possible, and find excuses to stay after hours. With that said, I’m going to walk you through one of my favorite days from high school.

On a Friday morning, I woke up at 5:30am and happily got dressed in record time. I wrote for the school newspaper, The Knight Crier, and I needed to get there before 6:30 to meet a teacher for an interview. I tried to schedule these interviews on Friday mornings on purpose; having a genuine conversation with someone for an article was not only a great way to start the day, but also end the week.

My mom drove me to school that morning, and she dropped me off at the same stop sign that she always did. After I gathered my purple backpack, matching lunch box, and camo drawstring bag for gym class, I waved goodbye to my mom as she drove away, and I stood in the parking lot. I took in the sight of my enormous school that was home to over 3,000 staff and students that morning. Behind me, the sun was rising, and I was tempted to take a picture of it. Instead, I stood in the parking lot for a few more minutes, allowing the sight of the rainbow sherbet sky to fuel my body with energy. Satisfied, I turned around and made my way towards the entrance.

After climbing up the front steps, I approached the front doors. This was my favorite part about starting my day. When I crossed that threshold, I immediately took in the various smells of high school. The chlorine from the pool, the mopped floors in the concourse, the pencils, papers, and books from throughout the building, the cafeteria, the library, the classrooms, the gyms, the auditorium, and the hallways combined with one another, producing one welcoming scent that overwhelmed me as I walked through the doors.

I stared down the empty, dimly-lit concourse and looked to my right. Waving and saying my usual “Good morning, Walt” to the security guard, I made my way to the interview that I had scheduled with the teacher. I swore that the next forty-five minutes were responsible for the best interview that I ever had. I always seemed to say this after every interview.

I made my way to my first class and took the long way just so I could say good morning to as many teachers as I could. I climbed the stairs to the third floor of K-Pod and walked into the best class that anyone could start their day with: News Journalism with Mr. Manero. He has and always will be one of my favorite teachers ever.

As I went through all eight periods of the day, I remember how I didn’t notice how heavy my backpack was that day, how much homework I had for the weekend, or that I had a few tests the next week. Simply put, I was especially happy that day. I spent the last period of the day with another one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Sieller. When the bell rang, announcing the start of the weekend, I met up with a group of my friends, and we made our way to the cafeteria for the next adventure.

For the next five hours, we all helped with setting up for the annual craft show that funds the exchange program. My best friend Nolan and I were fortunate enough to be selected to study abroad in Spain, so this event held a lot of meaning. We found our favorite crafters from Lancaster and helped them unwrap their pottery for hours, flattening the newspaper like pros. Once the crafters were finished setting up, all the student volunteers, staff members, and exchange program trustees gathered in a room just outside of the cafeteria to enjoy some pizza together. We argued about who the crafters liked best, laughed with our teachers, told dramatic studying abroad stories, listened to even more dramatic ones, and passed phones around the tables to reminisce on memories.

We helped clean up from the pizza, said thank you, and made our way to the auditorium to watch the annual talent show. We whispered in awe at the talent of our peers, wondering how we never knew what their hidden talents were.

By the time I left the high school that night, it was well after 10pm. The high school, still alive, sat illuminated against the black sky. In all, I spent over 12 hours at school that day, and I loved every minute of it. Leaving the high school that night, I remember the gratitude I felt for my education. Not only was I given the opportunity to pursue academics, but also explore extracurricular activities. My experience at North Penn High School impacted me in ways that will last a lifetime.

Recalling days like these are why I believe in the power of students, why I believe in the power of educators, why I believe in the power of academics, why I believe in the power of extra-curricular activities, why I believe in the power of public schools.  

The History of a Public Controversy Contract

The History of a Public Controversy

Group Members: Emma Barber, Noelia Ortiz-Landazabal, Ava Self, Anushka Shah, Taylor Young, Anna Zuckerman

Topic: Segregation in Schools

Segregation in Schools

Working Thesis: Segregation in schools is a problem in the public-schools of the USA, so we want to show how this is a prevalent issue, which not only happens among schools, but also within classes


What is the controversy? (Does it exist? Yes/No How do we know it’s a controversy? Explain.)

  1. Current state of segregation in schools
    1. How did we get here?
    2. How did it arise?
    3. What has influenced it?
  2. Legislation regarding segregation
    1. Bussing
    2. Magnet schools
  3. How does segregation affect students?
    1. Achievement gap
    2. Access to resources
    3. Quality of life
  4. How is this going to impact the future of public school education?
    1. Betsy DeVos
    2. Vouchers
    3. School choice
  5. Explicit Examples
    1. Empirical Evidence
    2. Find schools where integration works
    3. Find schools that are segregated
  6. Address the other side of the argument; it doesn’t exist
  7. Questions that come up from research?

Division of Research

In this chart, we distribute the research among our group members to complete this aspect of the project more efficiently. To ensure overlap and thorough research of each major question, each member has been assigned at least three topics. Everyone was able to pick their own topics to research, so all group members have had a say in this process. In addition to researching, we will summarize and take notes from our research and add that material to a separate folder for research.

Research Topic Group Members
History of school segregation? Anna Taylor Ava
Legislation on school segregation? Anna Noelia Emma
How does segregation affect students? Noelia Ava Emma
How is it going to impact the future of public school education? Ava Anushka Taylor
Explicit Examples: Noelia Emma Anushka
Other side: It doesn’t exist: Anna Anushka Taylor
Other that arises from research Free to anyone Free to anyone Free to anyone


Member Roles

In this chart, we have assigned two people to serve as the team leaders for each major part of the assignment. These roles do not mean that we will not work together on all aspects, rather they help to better organize the structure of our group, so we can accomplish each task more efficiently.

Task Team Leaders
Organizing Research Emma Anushka
Writing Script/Story board Ava Taylor
Filming Video Anna Noelia
Editing Video Everyone Everyone


Paradigm Shift Essay

Taylor Marie Young

ENGL137, Section 008

Mrs. Teresa Hamilton

27 October 2017

No Child Left Behind: An Increased Emphasis on Standards and Accountability and What It Means for Education in the United States

The main goal of public schools in the United States is to provide an equal education for all students. With the endless factors influencing students’ educational experience, such as socioeconomic status, race, and gender, this proves to be a lofty goal, especially when most of the variables are out of the control of schools. Despite the diverse backgrounds that students are raised in, which affect their academic performance, the educational system holds schools accountable to the concept of achieving equality of educational opportunity. Achieving this idea would result in a successful educational system that not only values its students’ success, but also equality. However, when it comes to determining whether or not schools are making progress towards equality of educational opportunity, it proves to be a major challenge for the government to decide not only how, but also what to measure. The various approaches, such as focusing on access, classical curriculum, differential curriculum, and desegregated schooling, are constantly shifting; however, the most significant and recent change regarding meeting standards and the idea of accountability in schools was sparked by the 2002 enactment of No Child Left Behind. With the goal of achieving equality of educational opportunity, the educational system in the United States initially focused on the issue of inputs; however, since the passage of No Child Left Behind, the system now places a much larger emphasis on outcomes, placing a higher demand on standards and accountability that ultimately negatively impact schools and education in general.

From Inputs to Outputs: How No Child Left Behind Has Shifted Education

To ensure that at all students receive an equal education, an emphasis was placed on inputs. If every student receives the same thing, they are sure to receive the same education. This idea is corroborated through the desegregation of schools, because throughout “a twenty-year period during the 1970s and 1980s, African-American children in public schools made steady progress, cutting the achievement gap between themselves and whites roughly in half on the widely respected National Assessment of Educational Progress” (Taylor 1751). If it was not for Brown v. Board of Education determining that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional, black students would be denied their rights to access the same education that white students were provided with.

While the desegregation of schools proved to decrease the prior educational inequalities, there was still room for improvement. In the mid-1960s, the government’s focus started to shift towards the performance, or outputs, of children in poverty and of color. Legislation much like Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which strived to bring “economically disadvantaged children only up to basic levels” and its 1994 reform to achieve higher performance in the Improving America’s Schools Act signaled the approaching revolution in education (Taylor 1753-1754). Coming to the conclusion that equality of educational opportunity would be achieved if all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or any other influential variables, could reach the same level of performance or higher, the federal government’s enactment of No Child Left Behind produced one the most significant shifts in the history of public- school education in the United States.

Before this legislation, “there was little or no ability to compare the performance of students within the same school system, much less students within the same state” (Johnston 196). Given the emphasis on ensuring that the inputs for students were equalized, this makes sense; it was assumed that successful education was defined as providing students with the same schools, the same curriculum, the same materials, and the same opportunities. However, focusing on the inputs is only half of the process, because without analyzing and interpreting the outputs, it’s impossible to gauge whether or not access can truly be considered equal. This is what No Child Left Behind attempts to accomplish by requiring “each state to create academic standards, to use standardized tests aligned to those standards, and to publish that data for public consumption” (Johnston 196).

“To account for improvement in the academic achievement of all students” (Duran 80), furthering the demonstration of the shift of the emphasis on outputs, No Child Left Behind was designed and enacted in a consequential format. The legislation requires states to develop not only content that defines “the skills and knowledge that all students are expected to obtain and be able to demonstrate”, but also performance standards, which “define proficiency levels for skills and knowledge, which are required to be measured and determined through the use of standards-based assessments” (Duran 80). To hold each state and their respective schools accountable for meeting the standards, No Child Left Behind requires that schools show Academic Yearly Progress “by increasing the percentages of students who are able to demonstrate proficiency on annual standards-based assessments” (Duran 80). If a school does not exhibit the minimum Academic Yearly Progress requirements, it could experience sanctions and consequences, which is meant to encourage “reform efforts that produce significant, sustained, and continued improvements in the academic achievement of their students for fear of losing federal funding or losing authority to manage and operate their schools” (Duran 94).

Because No Child Left Behind has “turned to quantitative performance indicators to hold schools accountable for students’ performance” (Jennings 227), which are reinforced by possible consequences and sanctions, the stakes to meet standards are much higher than when the focus was on inputs. Despite the conviction that inputs were producing equality of educational opportunity, the data collected and published by schools throughout the country shortly after the enactment of No Child Left Behind proved that this was not the case, as “this information spotlighted the persistent achievement gaps between affluent and low-income students” (Johnston 196). This data not only confirms the need to analyze and interpret outputs, but also strengthens and validates the major shift in education towards accountability and standards that No Child Left Behind presented.

Implications: How No Child Left Behind Damages Schools and Education Itself

A surface level analysis of No Child Left behind would lead one to believe that the legislation sparked a positive shift in how we view achieving equality of educational opportunity. While the act brings forth the importance of not only ensuring the equality of inputs, but also analyzing and interpreting the outputs that they produce, No Child Left Behind has impacted the deep roots of education. The idea “that the nation’s education system should be accountable for its results” is certainly plausible and should be considered intensely (Johnston 196); however, because of the severity of the consequences and sanctions that the legislation presents, it has caused an unhealthy emphasis on standards and accountability that ultimately damages schools and education itself. No Child Left Behind has associated education with numbers, a detrimental association that “focuses on strategic behavior that creates the illusion of improvement, sometimes referred to as ‘gaming the system’” (Jennings 228).

Damaging Schools

The two major components of a school are the students and the teachers. In the most basic interpretation, school is a place where teachers teach students; however, this explanation is more complex when other factors are added. With the addition of No Child Left Behind, not only are teachers held accountable to standards, but also students, but more often than not, “schools face the possibility of confronting consequences and sanctions based on interpretations and uses of results that may be invalid, unreliable, ungeneralizable, and of little value or utility” (Duran 76). The negative effects of the legislation’s requirements and demand for accountability and standards are exemplified through the concept of Academic Yearly Progress.

Despite the endless factors to consider when evaluating and comparing reported data by schools, “the degree to which a school is looked upon as effective is generally determined by where it ranks in comparison to other schools based on standardized assessment results” (Duran 83). This type of rank ordering does not account for two important factors: variables outside of the school’s control and good instruction insensitive to measuring change (Duran 84). Schools have little power over the population of students tested each year, and it is important to avoid any assumptions that the current group of students has the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous group. Despite this reality, this assumption is still being made when “determining the level or degree of school effectiveness” is based off of their rank (Duran 83). In addition, reporting data that does not represent growth from the previous year may not account for the fact that “good instruction occurred but the test was insensitive to measuring change” (Duran 84). With the method of simply ranking scores based on the positive or negative change in relation to the previous year, a school with highly effective instruction may be ranked lower compared to other schools if they did not report as drastic of a change in test scores for the given year.

Damaging Education Itself

Shifting the idea of how to attain equality of educational opportunity towards students’ outputs, No Child Left Behind requires the entire process of administering education to be rethought. If schools and states are going to be accountable and meet the necessary standards, education itself must revolve around meeting the requirements of the legislation. As a result of the strict, yet ill-defined, requirements of No Child Left Behind that require states to create content and performance standards, the heavy weight associated with the state standards significantly influences education itself through curriculum and instruction and the idea of equity and access to educational opportunity (Darling-Hammond 7-8).

Because states are required to publish the data from their standardized tests that reflect the respective academic standards (Johnston 196), the education provided throughout the academic year will ultimately be crafted in a way that ensures students produce the desired scores. Such educational effect exemplifies “the recognition that assessment, especially when it is used for decision-making purposes, exerts powerful influences on curriculum and instruction” (Darling-Hammond 7-8). With that said, the value of curriculum and instruction deteriorates in the midst of the emphasis on achieving proficiency in state standardized tests. Not only that, but standardized “tests generally do not reflect the actual tasks educators and citizens expect students to be able to perform, nor do they stimulate forms of instruction that are closely connected to development of performance abilities” (Darling-Hammond 11-12). If curriculum and instruction are heavily influenced by the requirements of No Child Left Behind, the quality of education being provided to students is questionable, because it does not even reflect what society expects learners to be taught.

No Child Left Behind reinforced the shift towards an emphasis on students’ outputs in education; however, the legislation’s requirements “addresses concerns about equity and access to educational opportunity” (Darling-Hammond 8). Just as standardized tests influence curriculum and instruction, they also impact students’ learning opportunities. To ensure that accountability and standard requirements are met, data is often manipulated by “tracking students into different courses, levels, and kinds of instructional programs” (Darling-Hammond 8). Tracking students results in lasting effects not only in the range of their life choices and ways to exhibit capability, but also limiting their access to additional learning experiences (Darling-Hammond 8-9). When education that promotes growth and opportunities for all students is compromised at the expense of accountability and standard requirements outlined by No Child Left Behind, its value has undoubtedly been diminished.

Ensuring that all students receive an equal education is a major goal when it comes to public-schools in the United States. One of the ways to achieve this is by holding schools accountable and having high standards. It makes sense. If schools are going to have high expectations for students, then the educational system should have high expectations for schools. This was the foundation of No Child Left Behind, and the legislation succeeded in displaying “the persistent achievement gaps between affluent and low-income students” (Johnston 196). While No Child Left Behind aimed to expose the achievement gap and create an incentive for schools to improve education in a way that would result in equal outputs, it was written and implemented in a way that not only resulted in a drastic shift in education, but also detrimental effects to schools and education itself. No Child Left Behind has made a lasting effect in education with regards to the emphasis on standards and accountability, and the legislation’s consequences, sanctions, and lack of interpretation of results prove why it failed to achieve equality of educational opportunity. However, No Child Left Behind has demonstrated an important lesson: the power of legislation. If a single piece of legislation had the power to cause a tectonic shift in education from inputs to outputs, then one could only imagine the power of its more effective counterpart. With that said, not only do extensive amounts of time and effort need to be woven into legislation, but also passion and experience.



Works Cited

Darling-Hammond, Linda. “Performance-Based Assessment and Educational

Equity.” Harvard Educational Review, vol. 64, no. 1, Apr. 1994, pp. 5–31. Harvard Education Publishing Group.

Duran, Alex. “Factors to Consider When Evaluating School Accountability Results.” Journal

 of Law & Education 34.1 (2005): 73-100.

Jennings, Jennifer L. “School Choice or Schools’ Choice? Managing in an Era of

Accountability.” Sociology of Education, vol. 83, no. 3, 2010, pp. 227–247. JSTOR,


Johnston, Mike. “From Regulation to Results: Shifting American Education from Inputs to

Outcomes.” Yale Law & Policy Review 30.1 (2011): 195-210.

Taylor, William L. “Title I as an Instrument for Achieving Desegregation and Equal

Educational Opportunity.” North Carolina Law Review 81.4 (2003): 1751-1770.

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