Posts Tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

The federal role in public education

April 7, 2015

Diane Ravitch wrote a good article in the New York Review of Books pointing out that the federal government’s role in public education from 1965 to 2001 was to provide more resources for under-funded schools in poor communities.

It was the Bush and Obama administrations who gave Washington the mission of sorting public schools into winners and losers.  The old policy was something the federal government was capable of doing.  The new policy is not.  This is an example of Goyette’s Second Law in operation.


GOP turns against No Child Left Behind

January 4, 2015

Republicans in Congress want to repeal high-stakes testing provisions in the No Child Left Behind program.  I think this is a good thing overall, not a bad thing.

MISC_high-stakes-testingProposed by the George W. Bush administration and enacted with bipartisan support, the NCLB program measured teacher and school performance by means of achievement tests.  The idea supposedly was to highlight how schools are failing poor and minority students, but the only remedy is punishment of teachers and schools for low test scores.

The result was to scapegoat teachers, schools and, by implication, public education itself.   All this was called school “reform,” although to reform something means to correct its defects and make it better, which is exactly the point at issue.

testing&teaching642_nI think we the people should watch the details of what is being proposed—specifically in regard to provisions regarding charter schools and privatization of public schools.  But in general I think the push-back against NCLB reflects the experience and justified opposition of parents and teachers.

My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey, who sent me a link to a Politico article reporting the Republican plan to overhaul NCLB, also sent me a link to a Truthout review of Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty by Jay Gillen, a Baltimore public school teacher and mentor for the Baltimore Algebra Project, which began as an after-school mathematics tutoring program, but evolved into something much more powerful.

If somebody in authority wanted to improve education, especially for poor and minority students, they would talk to people such as Gillen and the other teachers who’ve risked their careers to resist meaningless tests.


The plot to overhaul No Child Left Behind by Maggie Severn for Politico.  [Bill Harvey]

Flipping the Script: Pedagogy, Theater and Radical Organizing in Schools of Poverty by John Duda for Truthout.  [Bill Harvey]

Top Ten Acts of Test Resistance in 2014: the greatest year of revolt against high-stakes testing in U.S. history by Jesse Hagopian for I Am An Educator. [Bill Harvey]

Teachers, school systems cheat on tests

April 7, 2011

President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program created financial penalties for public schools with inferior test scores.  President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program creates financial rewards for public schools that achieve superior test scores.

The predictable result:  Widespread cheating on tests by teachers and school administrators.  In Washington, D.C., the system winked at teachers who erased wrong answers and substituted correct answers.  In New York City, the tests themselves were dumbed down so as to make it easier to generate higher scores.

I don’t believe in high-stakes testing, but if you’re going to have it, there have to be safeguards against cheating.  At the very least, the tests should be drafted and administered by someone who is not accountable to the administrators of the system being tested.

Click on When test scores seem too good to believe for the opening report in a series in USA Today on schools that cheat on tests.

Click on When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real? for the USA Today series report on faked test scores in Washington, D.C., under ballyhooed chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Click on USA Today series forces look at cheating for Jay Matthews’ summary of the USA Today series in the Washington Post.

Click on New York’s school testing con for a New York Post report on how New York City tests were dumbed down in order to improve test results.

Click on Whistle-blowing teachers targeted for a report on how the Atlanta school system retaliated against teachers who reported systematic cheating.

Click on Ga. gives D.C. pointers in probe of school cheating for a USA Today followup on what to do about the Washington, D.C., cheating scandal.

Click on L.A. school board to close six charter schools caught cheating for a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Click on Cheat Sheet – Under Pressure, Educators Tamper With Test Scores for a roundup in the New York Times about school system cheating nationwide.

Click on How Schools Cheat for a comprehensive report by Reason magazine dating from 2005.

I found most of these links on Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler web log, an excellent daily commentary on the press with frequent reports on misreporting of education issues.