No Child Left Behind was the first reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to mandate yearly standardized tests in order to establish a national accountability structure. This version of ESEA perverted the laws original focus, set a federal role in education not originally intended by this law, and produced unacceptable, unintended consequences directly attributable to yearly standardized tests tied to a national accountability system. That is why the ties must be severed — not to waive away responsibility— to make right what has proved to be so wrong for America’s children.
What we know it did:
1. Narrowed the curriculum,
2. Produced cheating scandals,
3. Gave use data without real results,
4. Diminished local control and divided communities.
What we know it did NOT do:
1. Increase accountability for results,
2. Narrow the achievement gap.
The testing required under the No Child Left Behind accountability arm of the law is:
- Unnecessary – No federal education law prior to No Child Left Behind ever mandated yearly testing of every child. It is excessive.
- Unjustified – Accountability for student achievement is a local issue that must be addressed responsibly by each state and local district. It didn’t work from D.C.
- Wrong – Using standardized tests in any manner other than for what they are designed to do is unethical. It limited educational opportunities for a generation.
Due to be re-written and re-authorized in 2007, Congress has left this long-recognized problematic law in place to the detriment of a full generation of students. Options have been presented by large numbers of organizations only to be ignored. Grievances have not been sufficiently aired. We must act!
Race to the Top (RttT) was not a solution for the problem with No Child Left Behind testing. RttT was the education-dollars granting system created by one-time stimulus funds. The test-based accountability mechanism associated with it only produced a renaming of the elements of accountability (eg. “Needs Improvement” to “Focus”) and shifted school punishment tied to tests to unproven and dis-proven teacher test-based “rewards” (and in turn test-based punishment for some).
Our prolonged silence about the injustices of outcome-based, test-based education “reforms” has been and is an unacceptable situation that America has obviously both accepted and chosen to ignore. Election season is the best time to right this wrong.
Contact Your Representatives Today!