January 15, 2015

WE ONLY WANT THEM TEACHING WHAT'S ON OUR TESTS:

What Will Become of No Child Left Behind? (MAX UFBERG, January 15, 2015, Pacific Standard)

IN 2009, THE NATIONAL Bureau of Economic Research released a report analyzing the effect of the No Child Left Behind Act on student success. Raking through state-level data of fourth and eighth graders, the authors saw improvements in math scores for both grades, but stagnation when it came to reading. Similarly, a 2010 report by the Brookings Institute found that the No Child Left Behind Act "has had a positive effect on elementary student performance in mathematics, particularly at the lower grades." More encouraging still, the study noted that traditionally disadvantaged populations appear to benefit most from No Child Left Behind.

But even that hopeful bit of information comes with a caveat. Part of the problem, according to some opponents of the bill, is that there's no real basis for comparison with these results. Yes, math scores might go up, but if that progress comes at the expense of other, less "core" classes, is that really worth it? Broadly speaking, do we want to live in a world with a one-dimensional education system?

After all, teaching to the test often comes at the expense of not just art classes, but also history, physical education, and even lunch. (That's especially true in the poorer schools, where extra resources are scarce.) Some of that falls on school administrations, chained to performance-based funding. But sometimes teachers themselves--with a similar fear of testing as a job performance measure--will cut aspects of their curriculum that don't fit into the federal exams.

One of the points of testing is to drive out the fluff.

Posted by at January 15, 2015 4:35 PM
  

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