No Child Left Behind
Since the 2005-2006 school year policies have been set in place to require standardized testing to be given to students from third to eighth grade. These tests are focused on the area of mathematics and reading. As of the year 2007, students have been required to be tested at least once in elementary school, middle school, and high school in the area of science. The tests must meet certain standards that are set by each individual state. The results from each school must meet a “proficient” level as set by the state by the 2013-2014 school year and display “adequate yearly progress”. Any student in a school that fails to meet these standards three years in a row must be offered services including private tutoring (No Child).
Well, that’s the technical side of it at least. In reality, No Child Left Behind and other standardized testing requirements do not provide a genuine assessment of students, nor do they allow for a means of improvement in schools. They fail to take into account the fact that some children can’t keep up with the material. If a student can’t pass a class, they were previously kept back to repeat the class. Now, with the passage of NCLB, teachers must make accommodations for these children to ensure that their test scores are high enough to keep the schools operating under the faculties they have (Pros and Cons). Not only do the students suffer in this, but the well being of what will someday become the working population does as well.
Special Education teachers have it the worst. They are fighting a losing battle when they try to prepare students to take tests that will determine the rest of the child’s life. They are being taught math that they will never use, and science that has no lifetime relevance. They are being forced to structure sentences and regurgitate dates on a test. Special Education children are being dealt the worst blow of all of this. They are passed under the table so that they don’t have to continue to fail standardized tests, so that the schools will be able to raise their overall average. They are allowed to graduate without the faintest idea of when the Indian-American war was, and they can’t tell the difference between granite and grammar.
The standardized testing in the United States is a joke. Not all students are cut out to go to college, or to take careers that would require many of the skills learned in typical high schools. In Ohio, even those students attending a Vocational School must take the Ohio Graduation Test their sophomore year before they are permitted to graduate. They must pass all of these tests, which take a week of time, as well as take away from time that the students spend in their labs, learning a trade that will come to their benefit later in life.
Standardized testing also takes the originality out of schools. This especially effects the arts. Music and Art classes are the first to be cut when test scores are low and schools lose funding. The other extra-curricular activities are next to go, including agriculture, shop, and home etc. It affects the other core classes as well by forcing them to teach from strict guidelines that were distributed by the state in order to prepare their students for testing. Fun activities and new materials are often cut from curriculums. This is especially true for the English department. They are forced to focus on the test materials, and not on the things that the students are truly interested in. They are forced to strip classic literature from the curriculum in favor of more mainlined grammar and composition work.
Standardized tests are doing a great disservice to the youth of America. They are being forced to learn streamline material and they lack the depth and well-rounded knowledge of many of the generations before them. Although NCLB is a great idea in theory, in actual practice it fails as a means of showing growth of students (Pros and Cons). A two part test to show the relative development of each student as an individual would be much more effective in rating how educators are doing, but the government would much rather serve up standardized slop and expect the educators and the youth to accept it with a blind eye to the problems it creates.
“No Child Left Behind.” Education Week. Editorial Projects in Education, 21 Sept. 2004. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.
“Pros and Cons of No Child Left Behind.” Educational Research. Nov. 2006. Web. 19 Apr. 2011.