NCLB … a curse on education

by Steve Wyckoff on March 8, 2010

Even former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch agrees! Well she didn’t exactly say it’s a curse but she did say when speaking about No Child Left Behind, “… I’ve looked at the evidence and I’ve concluded they’re wrong. They’ve put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education and I don’t think any of this is going to improve public education.”  And I couldn’t agree more!

Her primary concern is the same as mine the emphasis on standardized tests.  I believe that we have created a culture of test taking skills, she believes we have created a culture of “cheating and dishonesty.”  I think that she believes the tests are important and that the scores mean something, I don’t think they’re important and I don’t think they mean nearly as much as we like to believe.

I see all too often schools that are focused on strategies to raise test scores, that have nothing to do with students learning more, and being able to apply the knowledge under real-world conditions.The net effect of the strategies is that our students by school more boring, and more irrelevant than ever. And boring and irrelevant are not desirable conditions for learning to occur.

However, it is encouraging that some high-level people, mostly former policymakers, are seeing that the top down, centrally controlled strategies for improving education aren’t working. Hopefully, those in charge will abandon these well-meaning but misguided strategies and focus on real systemic change that leads to the kind of educational system our kids need, and deserve, in the 21st century. – Steve Wyckoff

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