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NAEP Scores Assessed

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This week, The Christian Science Monitor reported on the 2007 National Assessment of Education Progress test results. Released Tuesday, the NAEP scores indicate that elementary and middle school students are making significant gains in math and marginal improvements in reading. The achievement gap between black and white students—27 points—is still large, but at an all-time low.

Many are quick to link the achievement gains to No Child Left Behind, particularly as Congress debates its reauthorization. Defending NCLB in light of the NAEP results, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said, “[It’s]…working…Any efforts to weaken accountability would fly in the face of rising achievement." However, the NAEP results may not be enough to convince most. A September PDK/Gallup Poll suggests that, for the first time, most Americans view NCLB unfavorably.

Reflecting on the response to the NAEP scores, Gail Russell Chaddock of the Monitor writes, “The timing of the biennial release of fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading scores—as Congress takes up renewal of a controversial education law—could not be more politically charged.”

8 Comments

Of course "most Americans view NCLB unfavorably." It's all they hear as part of the overall effort to make Bush look bad. The fact is that most Americans probably don't know much about NCLB. None of this is to say that it's a good law or a bad law ... just that decisions should be made based on evidence/results and not on propaganda.

My experience has been that NCLB is thought of in a poor light , often due to misunderstandings and misconceptions. Overall,we do not do a very good job of publishing and promoting our success as a profession, and the naysayers tend to have a louder and more frequesnt voice than those of us who are seeeing the positive results from the initiative.

While components of NCLB may need revision, I agree with the Secretary that any step back would fly in the face of all the good that has been done.

To hold people accountable for their work is something that is done in all professions, and while that makes many uncomfortable, it has been my experience that it tends, (but of course is not limited to) to be those who are not doing the hard work that needs to be done. Those who are doing the work, don't find the time to just complain, but solve problems, and perhaps their message is not getting out to the populace at large.

We need to sell and promote the good hard work that most of us in education are doing and present the information about NCLB that is working more frequently and in a positve light, not just to our peers , but to people in general. Everyone has an opinion. Let's help it be an informed one.

NCLB is not the answer for many obvious reasons that have been stated over and over. There is very little "positive" to share about excessive testing, teaching to the test, skills left unmastered because they are not tested (handwriting for example), teachers being held accountable for things for which they have no control. I'm from Tennessee, we have the added problem of value-added scores which are often misunderstood, misrepresented and misused by administrators. Looks rather dismal.

NCLB was put into place to help our students make gains, which they have done. Party politicians want to change that law immediately before we see more progress in our schools? I'm from Tennessee, too and proud to be one of the really "highly qualified," hard working, not afraid of a test teachers.
Teaching to a test is only a bad idea if we haven't aligned our test to our standards. What is wrong with determining what is important to know (standards), teaching those standards to our students, and then measuring whether we have done our job or not?

"NCLB was put into place to help our students make gains, which they have done." But what is the measuring stick that show these "gains"? Is it an increased demand for assimilative behaviors? Is it a leveling toward basic skills? Is it class time spent on teaching the test over critical thinking opportunities that have the capacity to help students to use the skills that are tested? The basic question is "what do we consider a gain for today's student?

I agree that we need to be cautious in our evalutation of improvement. Are we improving intelligence or test taking skills? If we adress critical thinking, then simple recall becomes second nature; it's a given. What do we want for our future: thinkers or test takers? Education should be about learning how to learn...not learning how to test. I think we are dealing with a catch 22 where we are improving scores, but we aren't doing our children any justice in education. We want a better education for all, a better education just for some.

I agree that we need to be cautious in our evalutation of improvement. Are we improving intelligence or test taking skills? If we address critical thinking, then simple recall becomes second nature; it's a given. What do we want for our future: thinkers or test takers? Education should be about learning how to learn...not learning how to test. I think we are dealing with a catch 22 where we are improving scores, but we aren't doing our children any justice in education. We want a better education for all, NOT a better education just for some.

I believe the tests are necessary due to the fact that so many of the children were doing badly, and now, because of accountability, have improved. Testing is a necessary evil. Students will be taking tests - SAT, ACT, college tests - all of their scholastic lives. It's better for them to become accustomed to it at an early age and not develop 'test anxiety'. Also, it is true that students who are being taught effectively will not just have to be taught 'the test'. It should be possible to teach the standards of the test in a creative manner, and to practice untested things like handwriting, for instance. Perhaps as homework.

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