When I sat down to read and think about the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that occurred in 2001, I began to form my own opinion about the Act. I do believe that it was created originally as a positive idea to help students learn and be successful in the classroom. However, after working in a school system, I have come to realize that my opinion has changed after being exposed to The Standards of Learning tests (SOL).
My first teaching experience was an earth science position located at a nearby high school. I had both the collaborative classrooms and the honors classroom. Between both, I realized that a teacher’s salary and ability can not be solely based on a standardized test. These tests do not account for the students that do not care about learning or may have other learning needs. These tests do not account for the students that have test anxiety and cannot specifically perform well in a testing situation. The pattern I started to see was that teachers are not teaching to the test and not using differentiated instruction. They do this because it is the standards they are required to teach efficiently and in return it leaves no room for creative thinking. We need creative thinking in the classroom to help every student connect with the material. When we cannot use time by allowing a student to grasp an idea, we are dangerously moving into the idea behind “teaching the test”.
Rather than accept NCLB’s dangerous prescriptions for public education, we propose a new approach to accountability as the basis for a comprehensive revamp of NCLB (Guisbond and Neill 2004). Through Guisbond and Neill’s research, their main topics are to use their FairTest nonprofit organization to focus on getting federal, state, and local governments to work together to provide fair opportunity for all children to learn a rich curriculum, use multiple forms of evidence to assess student learning, help teachers ensure educational success for all students, localize the primary accountability mechanisms, and focus primary responsibility of the state governments to provide tool and support for schools and teachers while maintaining equity and civil rights. Their focus on these topics present that they are looking for ways to maintain a fair way to assess schools and teachers. Through their research, they account for student’s home life, financial stability, and learning abilities of each individual student. This helps teachers maintain differentiated instruction. In my opinion, the most important of these principles are the use of multiple forms of evidence to assess student learning and the opportunity to provide rich curriculum to all students. In this busy world and constant assessment of education, most policymakers have forgotten the most important thing at hand: the students. By accounting for individual student differences, we are able to maintain and understand a student’s success. If we want to know how well students are doing, we need to look at a range of real student work (Guisbond and Neill 2004). It is just not possible to assess an individual solely based off of standardized tests.
Galloway (2007), had similar findings throughout his journal. The federal government has taken an increased degree of control over what schools teach and over their funding while maintaining the illusion that school districts have independent self-governance (Galloway 2007). This to me was very frightening because it speaks true to what is happening. Throughout this text, I learned about how a school could go from high-test results to a sudden low, placing the school labeled as a failing school. States and districts often respond to this type of situation not by helping the failing school, but by lowering state standards (Galloway 2007). We as teachers and citizens must be aware of this escape. We cannot allow for states and districts to lower standards for our children. We need to incorporate differentiated instruction while maintaining a fair curriculum and expectation for all students. We don’t want to hind behind these standards and ultimately lose our quality of teaching. A good teacher is one who can take knowledge, care, instruction, technology, communication, and experience and incorporate it into their lesson plans. By basing student success from standardized curriculum and learning, we cannot correctly conclude that students are “failing” a subject. Galloway tests this idea throughout his journal and successfully explains the effects of standardized tests in public schools.
All of the authors in both pieces of work, touched on one common goal, the goal to help all students achieve a great education. In order for us to do this for all students, we must look to our resources and stop standardized tests. We have drifted away from the student’s individual needs and focused heavily on what we must teach by a certain time. After studying these different academic journals, I found that I had a lot of similar opinions as researchers. My findings confirmed the flaws associated with the NCLB, however, it also opened my mind to ways of solving it based off of research and data that was collected. Researching this Act brought a lot of emotions to me and made me want to make a change, find a way that can stop standardized teaching and change it back into something meaningful. I see students struggle with these standardized tests on a daily basis and what kind of effects they have on teachers. I want to stop this downward spiral and bring life back into the classroom for all that are involved.
Galloway, D. (2007). A change management, systems thinking, or organizational development approach to the no child left behind act. PerformanceImprovement, 46 (5), 10-16.
Guisbond, L., Neill, M. (2004). Failing our children: No child left behind undermines quality and equity in education. The Clearing House, 78 (1), 12-16.
No Child Left Behind: A Decade of Failure [Video]. (2012). United States of America: The Cato Institute. Retrieved September 7, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0WUqNO0qo4.