Does the concept of "No Child Left Behind" really make sense?

Re the NCLB program the notion is that huge efforts and monies will be expended to make sure almost ALL kids test to specific standards no matter what the the challenges are.

Intelligence and motivation both lie along bell curves in the real world, and the assumption that at least 95% of students can achieve a desired standard of academic achievement seems to be a reach in terms of setting rational goals and expectations.

How’s that working out so far?

It is the kind of absurdity that you get when you let lawyers determine educational policy with zero lit review. It has resulted in such situations as immigrant children who speak no English at all being expected to be at grade level with virtually no adequate prep time at all. It results in children who don’t want to learn and whose parents are actively scornful of education being expected to be at the same level as students who strive with all their might to get into Ivy League schools, who are given every material advantage, whose parents read to them, help them with their homework, etc…

Not to mention the inherent failings in high-stakes testing…

It’s a bad, bad policy.

Mother Nature places us on a bell curve for genetically-based intelligence potential at the starting gate, and Lady Luck plops the gate for each individual at different points along the track for the Course of Life so that some–even with the same genetic protoplasm–get a huge leg up.

Somebody is gonna get left behind, so the premise of NCLB is rather suspect.

Spend the money and effort making sure teachers are of the highest standard, and compensated accordingly. Stop pretending that all it takes is appropriate schooling–regardless of protoplasm being taught–to flatten out the bell curve. Aggressively equalize opportunity. Stop pretending the federal government should evaluate and control local schools.

You’ll still have some children left behind, and you’ll still have a bell curve. But your money and effort will be better spent.

How about “No President Left Behind”?

No Child Gets Ahead

I don’t think setting some minimum standard for 95% of students to pass is necessarily trying to “flatten out the bell-curve”. It’s not like we’re asking every HS graduate to understand calculus, even though those at the “top of the curve” are presumably able to do so (and given the opportunity to do so through AP classes).

One of the issues however, is with a mandate to get the bottom part of the curve to pass, and limited funds, a lot of districts can’t fund those AP courses. NCLB wouldn’t be a horrible policy if it were adequately funded without requiring schools to rob other programs (like the gifted and talented program) to provide funding.

Everything about our education system is out of whack. Among the problems is the idea that kids should be grouped according to age and promoted or not based on all the subjects they study. What you end up with are bored smart kids and overwhelmed slow kids as the teacher tries to teach to the middle. If we’d just let kids progress at their own pace and set minimum standards for graduation we’d be better off.

We should become concerned about a kid when it looks like he/she is on a track so that they will not acquire the basic skills by the time they are 18.

Amen to that. NCLB is a wonderful idea but it’s debatable whether it’s worked. What should be done is that there would be a specific set of requirements to get to the next grade. In order to advance, you have to pass the final exam. Whatever level you get to at age 18, that’s what goes on your diploma. Then it’d become standard to ask on a job application for the applicant’s level. No more of this diploma-degree-postgrad 3-tier system.

Should the teachers be penalized if the students are autistic? jailed? absent?

I believe in testing teachers initially and for recertification. The tests should cover the subject matter that they will be certified to teach, basic reading, writing, and math skills, the principles of educational psychology, classroom management, and related areas.

And I believe in testing students every three grade levels (approximately) to see if they have an understanding of certain basic skills.

At the last school where I taught, most of the grade changing was done illegally by the guidance counselor. Teachers aren’t always the ones just passing the students on willy-nilly.

At my school, they didn’t even bother to do that until high school. If a child failed, they’d have a conference with the parents. If the parents were okay with them being held back, they would be. If not, they wouldn’t, although they’d likely to into some sort of remedial program if available.

When I was going through grade school, we had a computer lab where we were supposed to learn Math and English. Every lesson started out with a test–if you got 100% on it, you didn’t have to take the lesson. I thought this was a revolutionary way to teach, and that everyone would be teaching that way by the time I graduated. Needless to say, that is not the case. NCLB is the exact opposite.

I’d much prefer a system where public school is only a certain level of subjects, and you go until you learn them all. That would be much more beneficial to society.

No Child Left Standing

Tests are different in every state. In some they are easier, enabling more kids to pass. The most important changes that would improve students’ “achievement” would be better teaching and smaller classes. Also … (said with a grain of salt) … smarter students.

p.s. I’m a former special education teacher.

I agree with the concept of testing to standardized tests. I do not agree with the concept of promoting kids who can’t hack it. If they can’t pass the test, they don’t promote/graduate until they do.

There needs to be at least basic skill testing. I mean GAWD…there are still many people who are high school graduates who are " Ummm who’s President Obama?"
Meet at least MINIMUM standards…don’t go overboard ala Korea or those other countries where seven year olds kill themselves b/c they didn’t get into the right elementary school.
But at least make sure that kids are actually learning! I know a dude who’s pretty much retarded (can’t do simple addition or subtraction, can’t read too well, and other stuff) but he managed to get to college?!?!

Why the lawyer bashing? This was Bush’s brainchild, and he’s no lawyer. Ted Kennedy was on board, as I recall, but he was never much of a lawyer either. How about we change “lawyers” to “politicians?” Then I’d be in complete agreement.

For better or worse a fairly high proportion (relative to any other occupation or profession) of upper level national politicians are/were initially lawyers.

The concept makes sense but the implementation doesn’t.

It’s meaningless. My older sister teaches the severly disabled. One of her students is about a step above Terri Shivo in brain function - she can blink and she can cry, and that’s it. My sister’s job is to alter the test so that this girl is counted on a seventh grade level.

I think, once, getting a high school degree meant something. No more.

Tests (to the extent they are necessary) should be based on what educators see their students need to learn in the curriculum, which itself should be created by educators. Instead, districts and teachers focus on “what is in the test.” This is not good pedagogy.

Further, standardized tests are NOTOROIOUSLY biased, most probably inherently so.

As put more cogently by Alfie Kohn:

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Holding children back does not help unless they receive better teaching the second time around. Usually, they don’t.

Yeah, but what is in the test (in most cases) are standards that teachers helped create and are supposed to be teaching towards anyway. There is nothing wrong with ‘teaching to the test’. You are (almost) always teaching toward some kind of assessment, or test if you will. That can be a portfolio, a project, a quiz, a discussion, etc. Teaching without thinking about how you are going to assess whether students are actually learning the material is silly.

The problem with NCLB isn’t (usually) in the various state tests themselves, it is in what we do with the results from the tests. Placing such prominence on them, and tying silly and (often) unattainable benchmarks to them is where the problem really is.