No Child Left Behind?

Written by dad - 5 Comments

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last six years, you’ve heard of the No Child Left Behind Act. While the Act is built on earlier legislation that sought to provide additional federal funding for schools in poor communities, it now includes federal mandates regarding annual school assessments, staff qualifications, assessments at the preschool level, and sanctions for schools and districts that fail to make “Adequate Yearly Progress.”

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, pretty much everyone is in favor of better schools for our kids, right? Well…

The problem is that the stakes are so high that schools are more or less forced into “teaching to the test.” After all, there are some pretty severe penalties awaiting schools whose students stumble on their assessment tests. Well, ’tis the season for standardized testing, and our eight year old just went through our state’s battery of assessment tests.

It was pretty interesting to see his reaction, as he’s a very good student and he’s never been nervous about anything school-related. But the night before the testing started, he came to me and started talking about how they’d be taking these really important tests at school. The next morning he brought it up again, and I asked him if he was nervous. He said that yes, he was kind of nervous, and I told him not to worry about it, that he should just do his best. When he got home from school that day, he was all smiles — the tests were easy. It was the same story the next day, but…

When I looked in his backpack, I noticed that he had some test prep booklets. As it turns out, they’ve been doing practice tests and working through their test prep books for quite some time. The problem here is that they’re not actually learning anything other than how to take a test. As he put it, “I don’t really like doing it. It’s so easy, and so boring, and I don’t really learn anything when we do it.”

Great. That’s just what I wanted to hear. A substantial chunk of his school year has been devoted to learning how to take a test, rather than learning something useful. And to think that it’s all being driven by a law that was supposed to improve education.

Published on April 28th, 2006 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Education
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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. Classic case of unintended consequences…

    Comment by jim — Apr 29th 2006 @ 5:17 pm
  2. Good point.
    Your kid is learning how to pass a test. In the process he is learning, but not as much as he would be learning with other methods.

    I will tell you another example. My sister-in-law wants to enter a PhD program in Cornell. My wife and I have been coaching on how to pass the GRE with good scores (she is doing math, I am helping her on verbal). If we succeed (apparently we are, from practice tests) we will give her a better opportunity to enter the PhD program of her dreams.

    Your kid may be better prepared to take a SAT. Your kid may go to a better university or even get a good scholarship!

    I understand that passing a test is not everything in life. But try to see the bright side of this.

    You can also tutor your own kid in the areas where you think the school has been missing out. Your kid will do fine in the end.

    Good luck to your kid on the tests!

    Comment by Jose — May 4th 2006 @ 9:09 am
  3. When I was in high school, I moved from a state that did not base state money for schools on standardized test results to one that did. The difference in education was remarkable – I know that I didn’t learn anywhere near as much as I would have if I hadn’t moved. On the other hand, I did end up getting a perfect score on the SAT and a free ride to college. Also, my destination state had an essay as part of their standardized test, so my writing skills grew exponentially. I later removed any vestiges of those communication skills by becoming an engineer.

    Comment by Michael — May 18th 2006 @ 11:38 am
  4. Such is the true cost of accepting government money. It can’t help but be a corrupting influence, coming as it does from an intrinsically corrupt source.

    A “good public school” is like a prison with all the latest facilities and amenities, with the best-equipped guards wearing the fanciest uniforms, and regularly applied fresh coats of paint…that somehow manages to make a lot of people forget it’s a prison.

    Schools that most of the parents treat as taxpayer-funded babysitting services and virtually all of the controlling authorities treat as indoctrination camps are never going to make education a priority.

    Comment by Matt — Jul 14th 2006 @ 5:30 am
  5. I have been watching my cousins son over the summer. He has said, time and time again, that he learns more from me in each weekend that he spends with me, then in the entire year he spends at school.

    To give you an idea of his school…
    His Teacher told his 3rd grade class, that the son is just a giant meteor on fire.

    Also, his school encourages all students to take summer classes, not to get a “leg up” on the next year, but because historically, his school has had among the LOWEST test grades in the state! (MN)

    MORE crap education doesn’t make it better, it just takes the fun summers away from the kids.

    Comment by TJ — Aug 19th 2009 @ 11:10 am

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