What is your view on the No Child Left Behind Act? Would you rectify the situation, and if so, how would you go about doing this? I'm curious to see how teachers feel about this policy.
When it comes to national requirements for standardized accomplishments and standardized measures of accomplishment, other nations have comprehensive standardized tests, such as England's A Levels, and highly educated populations. It seems odd that America--which is falling behind in educational results in many academic areas--should be without comprehensive national standard educational testing.
I have heard nothing but negative comments from my friends who are teachers in the public schools. Since I am always interested in hearing both sides (or more) on any issue, I thought I'd pass along some links that may be helpful to you.
The problem with NCLB is that it was crafted by politicians who have no concept of the process of education. All they understand are test results, because they are measurable, and understandable to the layman. Any teacher worth his salt knows that tests are a poor indicator of student learning; particularly standardized tests which are drawn by someone other than the teacher. The enormous pressure which it creates puts a burden on teachers to "teach to the test," to avoid pressure from administration. At times, the response seems to be "do something, even if its wrong" just so one can convince the higher ups that one is working to improve test scores. Bottom line, NCLB is a colossal failure, and has been from the beginning. It has done far more harm to education than good, and should be scrapped completely.
I also have issues with NCLB, as the other posters have stated. Reaching 100% is literally impossible. I am hoping that the new Core Curriculum will help. Did the government realize they had made a mistake? Hmmmm....
I liked the idea, until I realized the problems associated with the program. It is simply impossible to hold all students, regardless of ability, to the same standards. It is simply not fair.
The intention of NCLB was noble as the title suggests. NCLB did bring about benchmarks and accountability that had rarely existed before its inception. However, many of these marks that districts were required to meet hurt good schools. For example, schools had to meet Annual Yearly Progress goals. If the school was already high-performing, this was difficult to always do because these goals would occurs for special populations who sometimes were difficult to work with. For example, students could be identified as 'at-risk' and they would have to be tested according to formalized test requirements. Some of these students will purposely tank a test to hurt the school. But, given the right mediums to demonstrate their learning, these kids could have thrived. The rigidity made NCLB not work. Flexibility however doesn't always work with schools either because people get lazy when requirements fade. It is a difficult balance.
To me, the real problem is that we have outsized expectations. There is no way that all kids will ever get up to grade level at once. It just is not possible. When we say that that is the goal, we are setting ourselves up for failure, disappointment, and ultimately to be angry at the educational system. I'd lower the goals and shoot for improvement by every student from year to year. Of course, that presupposes that we know how to measure improvement...
The focus here must be on the actual education of the students, not on test scores and feel-good policies. If students are testing below their peers, they should receive extra help to learn the topics, instead of artificially lowering standards and holding back others. The first and most important thing we have to do to reform the system is repeal NCLB. After that, we can have an honest discussion about how and where measures should be applied.