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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen shows where educator attention should be focused: The alarming Obama/Duncan policy, NCLB on steroids.]

Published in The Hill

To the editor

Education Secretary Duncan thinks that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is "too punitive, too prescriptive, it's led to a dumbing down of standards, and it's led to a narrowing of curriculum." (Interview with Duncan: Education secretary: 'No Child Left Behind' has led to a 'dumbing down', 1/28.)

But his plan is far more punitive, prescriptive and narrowing, and will finish the job of turning schools into test prep factories.

NCLB requires reading and math tests at the end of the academic year, which most people agree is far too much standardized testing.

According to the Department of Education's Blueprint for Reform, the new standards will be enforced with an astonishing increase in testing:

  • The Blueprint recommends testing in all subjects, not just math and reading.

  • The Blueprint insists we measure growth, which means testing in the fall as well as in the spring (spring to spring comparisons won't work because of summer learning and forgetting).

  • The Blueprint insists that we include "interim" tests given frequently during the school year.

  • In other words, everything that goes on in classes will be constantly tested by outside federal tests, a narrower and more prescriptive approach than has ever been used in the history of education.

    This is an astonishing development, increasing testing and outside control far beyond the already excessive level demanded by NCLB. It is also a waste of money: There is no evidence that increasing testing increases learning.

    Duncan's approach is not a change of direction. As Leonie Haimson recently commented on twitter, it is NCLB on steroids.

    Stephen Krashen

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