it just got flatter – but not in a good way

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I wasn’t much of a fan of the federally mandated ‘No Child Left Behind’ – and am still not so.  As flawed as our public education system is, it seemed more prudent to have those closest to the problems be the ones to come up with solutions … subsidiarity.  Now this

… new research published in Educational Researcher (ER) reports that progress in raising test scores was stronger before No Child Left Behind was approved in 2002, compared with the four years following enactment of the law.

 I’ve said it before … that I’m all for accountability … but honestly! an education is not like other commodities that have measurable value.  Practical application of a small set of things learned is not the major reason we educate our children (and ourselves).  Those who proposed and passed and enforce the No Child legislation may have had good intentions … but it’s fallen short in its results.

the strong advances in narrowing racial and income-based achievement gaps seen in the 1990s have faded since passage of ‘No Child’

 And if the No Child proponents are all about results, then they should be among the first to advocate for its removal. (I won’t hold my breath, though.)

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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3 Responses to it just got flatter – but not in a good way

  1. nkilkenny says:

    All this stuff with testing or tracking measurable outcomes (finding or manufacturing them) smells like Margaret Thatcher’s NHS project in Britain and the whole idea of ‘hitting target numbers.’ If people and institutions cannot meet targets… ‘they find away to meet them.’ Even if this means fudging numbers or ‘making data’ happen.

    Could you measure educational success in terms of the end product. I.E. the success of the people in the workforce/adult population or perhaps even a gain in income or status for some segments of the population… but even that is sketchy. I took a silly test not to long ago on some quiz site called “How smart are you?” The test basically assessed your ability to read through trick questions and make good choices (i.e. use your brain and not rely on just book knowledge). If you wanted to be a real smarty you could make every working adult take the test… measure all the people who scored over 90% and track whether or not this number improved or decreased over a period of time.

    Sometimes true success isn’t measurable. Maybe we should consider wider spread symptoms of the effects of good education, but that just wouldn’t satisfy the bean counters now would it?

  2. Rory says:

    Hey there Natalie – thanks for the comment. As long as I wear my hat-of-empathy-and-understanding I really think that one of the best intended reasons for the NCLB mandates was to somehow drive home the point that US students are indeed falling behind. Accountability is great … but to your point, the idea of measuring education is seriously flawed.

    Even if one were to say “measuring the results of education” … this is sketchy at best and (to my mind) seriously misguided. Then there is the huge issue of these test results being used to bludgeon school districts … primarily by withholding $$$. So, the teachers are now relegated to teaching to the test to ensure decent results so the $$ is not jeopardized. And they call that results ??!?!

    Meanwhile, the students could be connecting with other students across the country – and the world – engaging in real issues, addressing real problems, having real conversations … And can use math and science and language arts all in one go. I won’t hold my breath on this one.

    The final point that just burns me is that those who’ve proposed and stand by NCLB spew the idea of being accountable. Then with these data showing it failing … not one of them is coming out and admitting this whole nonsense was crap to begin with. So, we just keep on pretending that standardized tests are the way to manage public education in this country … and many many many children are being and will continue to be left behind.
    ARGHH!

  3. Pingback: While going through the kid’s school papers - that unfunded mandated rears its ugly head again « Learn-Learn-Learn

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