Single Status Update
On January 8th, 2002 the president to much fanfare signed the No Child Left Behind Act, however careful inspection of the law reveals much more about the state of opinion on education than anything else. The law stresses accountability and places a great amount of weight on standardized testing. The two core elements of the NCLB that most of the bill is centered around have been proven, time and again to be completely ineffective at measuring the value and worth of student intelligence.
Accountability boils down to the “whose fault is it” mentality that the nation has fallen into. Rather than digging deep and realizing the root causes of our failures in the education system, accountability and the NCLB act try to find fault with teachers, students, school districts and anything else other than the real problems. The real problems facing education are the lack of parental involvement, which can be heavily attributed to the increased workloads of parents trying harder to meet the fiscal needs and lacking time to help their children. Accountability not only fails to pinpoint the problems, but it fails to work in implementation. NCLB gives states the power to give teachers bonuses for higher test performances in their classes, and there are so many flaws in this it’s staggering. Teaching bonuses don’t factor in if a teacher is given rowdier students than another, or if the teacher is teaching alternative methods to testing, like group learning. Accountability reeks of blame, and a self serving society who are always looking to pass the buck.
Standardized testing measures only “academic” performance in the areas of reading, language and math, and is not proven to even be a reflection of student capabilities in these areas. Standardized testing fails to measure the level of creativity or problem solving a student may be capable. This is important because the categories of “gifted” students by the United States Office of Education include not only intellectual and academic “giftedness” as only standardized testing accounts for, but the U.S.O.E. also has categories for students gifted in creativity, leadership, and visual and performing arts. Robert Sternberg’s research on talent development education shows that students may learn and develop “gifted” talents based on their interaction with their environments and teachings. Standardized testing focuses solely on developing a child’s short-term memory and traditional academia. Not to mention that standardized testing is incredibly biased towards schools of middle and upper class schools with the money and resources available to teach test oriented class material. Even more unfortunate is that the schools found in poorer areas are most commonly the school primarily attended by African American students or students who speak English as a second language. While NCLB doesn’t advocate specifically reducing funding to schools “In need of improvement”, it does little to address the problem of a lack of funding to these poorer districts that will only continually perform worse and worse each progressive year until something else is done to help these under funded schools besides administering a warning or curriculum ultimatum.