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"Test the Kids"


In this video from the Educator Roundtable, you'll hear (over and over) the most common criticism of NCLB: It requires too much testing.

What strikes me is the repeated images of President Bush. As Eduwonk notes, polling shows that respondents support the general concepts of NCLB. But that support fades once they're asked a question that identifies those concepts with NCLB. Because the name is so closely associated with the president, maybe his unpopularity (as shown in polls here and here) will hinder reauthorization.


Dear Mr. Hoff,

The law itself fails on its own 'merits' and that is the important point. Researchers such as Gerald Bracey and Stephen Krashen have easily debunked the recent claims of the law's successes. But just for the sake of argument, let's say there really was a significant rise in test scores and a narrowing of the achievement gap that could be attributed to NCLB. At what cost? And would a rise in standardized test scores necessarily mean students had really learned more? Been better prepared for life and real applications of their many diverse gifts and talents?

You say polling shows respondents support the general concepts of NCLB. That is only true when the questions are craftily designed to elicit positive responses by unsuspecting people who generally know very little about the actual details of the law. All other polls, such as the Gallup poll, have shown repeatedly and unmistakably that when what lies beneath the propaganda-slick language used to market NCLB is exposed, when the details are laid bare, support for the law evaporates.

Tauna Rogers
Educator Roundtable

I have to agree with Ms. Roger's comments!

I am a pre-service teacher and for those of us who are about to embark into the world of education, filled with expectations to make a difference and educate America's future, it is disheartening to hear the same rhetoric time and time again about how far NCLB has brought us. The correlating assumption does not align with this year's result that our schools' performance did not improve and that more needs to be done to change this!
Has anyone stopped to think about the irony that this was the year for teachers to start receiving their merit pay if they were able to show consecutive gains?

I have been following NCLB and effects, both anecdotal (my own kid) and the research, since inception. I can note that my own kid--a student with learning disabilities--has gotten more attention since he had to be "counted" and his score reported and broken out. As a parent I have had more objective information to use in selecting schools (many "good" schools are not doing well for their students with disabilities).

I have also read the most recent study of NCLB using NAEP scores in 12 states. I am not altogether certain that NAEP alone is sufficiently sensitive to measure the kind of growth that we are currently seeing. While I am cognizant that states are still implementing and transitioning testing systems, and their cut scores overall fall below those of NAEP, when we are looking at movement from the bottom (in my state the "limited" and "basic" categories), it appears to be happening below a point where they would measure on NAEP. NAEP also suffers from an inability to provide apples to apples comparisons for students with disabilities. They have only lately been included, and are included without accommodations.

While it is perhaps tempting to place parents, or the public, into a know-nothing category, we are perhaps not-so-much to be overlooked. Certainly there have been attempts to categorize NCLB as unfair, unscientific, punitive, etc. etc--and this anti-branding has had an effect. But the real test is to present the ideas of standards and accountability, and this has been shown to garner public support.

Last year I self-published I'D RATHER BE LEARNING---how standardized testing leaves learning behind and what we can do.(See www.idratherbelearning.com)
Since then I created a satirical performance piece that punches out several truths:
test-score/fear-driven education
hurts teaching and learning;
the main beneficiaries of NCLB are
testing corporations, pharmaceuticals, the prison system, and our nation's military recruiters.
Learning and Teaching under NCLB and state administered standardized testing are undermining not improving the quality of public education..
As a community college teacher of child development, I know that the most significant learning has little to do with a test score. From John Dewey to Jerome Bruner to Deborah Meier---we know better about how children really want to learn---when they can be engaged in a meaningful way in the process.
Under NCLB pubic education is becoming corporatized, not democratized.
Focus on improving scores on standardized tests will never improve the quality of our public schools.
(Members of the Nazi party were outstanding test-takers.)
Please listen to Doug Christenson, the head of public ed. in Nebraska.
He's an educator who respects children as learners and teachers as professionals......who dont want to be robotized with scripts produced by McGraw-Hill and Dibels.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Phyllis Taub Greenleaf: Last year I self-published I'D RATHER BE LEARNING---how standardized testing read more
  • Margo/Mom: I have been following NCLB and effects, both anecdotal (my read more
  • Cecile Pelaez: I have to agree with Ms. Roger's comments! I am read more
  • Tauna Rogerse: Dear Mr. Hoff, The law itself fails on its own read more



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