Sunday, 8 January 2012

No Child Left Behind Anniversary: Education Law's Promise Falls Short After 10 Years


Ahhhh... the Bush legacy - a very interesting article

"The No Child Left Behind education law was cast as a symbol of possibility, offering the promise of improved schools for the nation's poor and minority children and better prepared students in a competitive world.

The law forced schools to confront the uncomfortable reality that many kids simply weren't learning, but it's primarily known for its emphasis on standardized tests and the labeling of thousands of schools as "failures." 
Critics say the law carries rigid and unrealistic expectations that put too much of an emphasis on tests for reading and math at the expense of a more well-rounded education.

The law requires annual testing. Districts must keep and publish data showing how subgroups of students perform. Schools that don't meet requirements for two years or longer face increasingly tough consequences, from busing children to higher performing schools to offering tutoring and replacing staff.

Jennifer Ochoa, an eighth-grade literacy teacher in New York who works with low-performing students, said the law has hurt morale among educators as well as students, who feel they have to do well on a standardized test or are failures, no matter how much progress they make.

"Afterward, it didn't matter how far you came if you didn't make this outside goal," Ochoa said. "We started talking about kids in very different ways. We started talking about kids in statistical ways instead of human being terms."



As the 2014 deadline draws closer, more schools are failing to meet federal standards, with nearly half not doing so last year, according to the Center on Education Policy. Center officials said that's because some states today have harder tests or have high numbers of immigrant and low-income children, but it's also because the law requires states to raise the bar each year for how many children must pass the test.

"One of the things we ought to be able to do is fix No Child Left Behind," said Alexander, R-Tenn. "What we ought to do is set new realistic goals for it so that schools and schools can have those kinds of goals, and most importantly we need to move out of Washington and back to states and local communities decisions about whether schools and teachers are succeeding or failing."
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