Friday, April 08, 2005

Some NCLB Ranting.

Why can't the public see past the warm, fuzzy title of No Child Left Behind and see the reality? Naturally the goal of all children achieving at the same level is a good one, but it is not realistic.

The most obvious failing of this program is to our wonderful special needs students. Many of these students may never be able to complete high school level work, yet they are still expected to pass the same standardized class as their non-classified classmates. Not only is this frustrating to the student and a waste of their time, but it also belittles any progress they have made.

Furthermore, assessing students soley by standardized testing is ludicris. A one time "bubble test" is a terrible indication of how "educated" a student is. Maybe a very-well educated student is simply a bad test taker or maybe a student isn't feeling well the day of the test. I fear that with NCLB teachers will be forced to teach soley to the test and any real learning will vanish.

Now, with the new flexibility the program is not only underminding the education of the nation's youth, but also undermining itself. Not only does this program promote favoritism of states with higher achievement, but once the states reach this achievement they are given privleges they should already have! The new flexibility claims that states who raise test scores will be able to change how the test students with "milder disabilities." If we really want to "level the playing field" and help all children shouldn't these students already have special arrangements? What about the states that are struggling are they getting additional help because they continue to fail to raise test scores? I don't think so.

The government cannot expect schools/teachers/etc. to change overnight without additional resources (read: TIME AND MONEY).

An aside:
I haven't been able to find much information on this, but I often wonder how other countries address the issue of public education. Are is the achievemnt gap among different races or ethnicities a problem in other countries as well? While we tend to fail our student in the areas of science and mathmatics, students in Japan excel in these areas? What are they doing different...more importantly...what can we change?

//edit//
This is an excellent letter about NCLB.

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