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[Susan notes: Thanks to Steve for pointing out that when two people argue about NCLB, both may be wrong.]

Submitted to USA Today but not published

To the editor

Both USA Today and John Kerry think that No Child Left Behind is a good idea "Today's debate: Improving public education,). Both are wrong.

Nobody in the field of education is opposed to

assessment, but the NCLB demands testing that is

inappropriate and excessive. As Alfie Kohn has pointed out, the NCLB has turned our schools into

test-preparation centers. Polls show that 75% of

principals oppose the NCLB testing requirements, and, when informed about the details, most parents also oppose it (see resultsofamerica.com).

Most experts in the field of reading education agree that basic phonics can be helpful, but the NCLB demands an extreme approach that requires lock-step teaching of all major phonics rules in a strict order for all students. This "systematic intensive" phonics approach is in conflict with the conclusions of a number of highly respected research scientists as well as the experience of a vast number of teachers.

Contrary to USA Today's claim, there is no evidence that "highly scripted reading programs" have been successful: They lead to more accurate reading of lists of words in isolation, but have no significant effect on tests of reading comprehension given after grade 1. What really does work in raising reading achievement is access to lots of good books, not heavy

drills and tests.

Stephen Krashen

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