A Rest On Standardized Tests?

No Child Left Behind, just reading the word makes many cringe and strong men faint. George W Bush’s magnum opus in education policy has become a symbol for his presidency, good idea with a terrible execution. Perhaps the most damaging aspect of NCLB was its push for standardized testing. Those in education have long debated standardized testing. How fair are they? Do they make teachers teach to the tests? What do they actually prove?

Should the government completely scrap No Child? No, it shouldn’t. I may be going out on a flimsy limb here, but NCLB is not a total disaster. Schools have just pushed students ahead for too long. The further along they are pushed, the larger the deficit in their education grows. By the time students reach high school, most are too embarrassed to ask for help and simply drop out. Few of these students will attend any type of higher education, becoming low wage earners and possible drags on society. It should be a crime in this nation to let any child fall into this position. NCLB took an important first step. No Child forced schools to set standards they should have set in the first place.

Don’t worry my praise for Bush’s baby ends here. No Child encourages teaching to the test. So what if a student can answer a multiple question? That doesn’t prove a child really understands the material. A child should be able to take what they have learned and apply it to many different areas and situations. Our lives do not function in a vacuum. Why should we expect our children to spout information in one?

Lastly, what do the tests themselves actually prove? What happens when a student who begins the year not being able to read, learns during the school year, but still does not meet the NCLB standard at the end of the year? NCLB considers hat child a failure. Growth based test scores are the answer. Each child is an individual, even each state and region of this nation are individual. How can we expect everyone to follow the same standard? The government needs to reward improvement. Curriculum and test requirements that focus on student growth are essential.

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