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NCLB Outrages

Next round begins for No Child Left Behind

Sent to the Christian Science Monitor by Stephen Krashen:

The Monitor uncritically repeats the US Dept of Education's disingenuous defense of No Child Left Behind, the claim that nine-year-olds made more progress in reading on national tests (NAEP) between 1999 and 2004 than in the previous 28 years ("Next round begins for No Child Left Behind" January 8,

No Child Left Behind does not deserve the credit for >the 1999 - 2004 jump. The 1999-2004 analysis is based on "trend" scores, equivalent tests given in 1999 and 2004: NCLB was not introduced until 2002-2003.

A look at the regular NAEP tests given between 1999 and 2004 suggests that the jump occurred between 2000 and 2002, before NCLB and Reading First were implemented.

Sent to the Christian Science Monitor by Rich Gibson:

Regarding "Next round begins for No Child Left Behind" CSM:

Inside a nation promising perpetual war to the world, it is a silly mistake to believe elites who back the NCLB, a clear effort to regiment what youth know, and how they come to know it, have good motives about kids who are "left behind," (by the unmentionable: racism and exploitation) or that somehow those children are better served by the NCLB project of curricula regimentation and high-stakes exams.

It is, after all, the same people who gain from booming inequality and imperial adventures that are promoting NCLB.

Really, NCLB has done nothing but use bogus claims to "science," while deepening the segregation of public schools, and the ignorance that guides the nation.

High-stakes exams are the cornerstone of the NCLB, and are too often placed beyond criticism. Here is a list of objections:

  • High_stakes standardized tests, an international phenomenon, represent a powerful intrusion into classrooms, often taking up as much as 40% of teacher time,

  • The tests pretend that one standard fits all, when one standard does not fit all,

  • These tests measure, for the most part, parental income and race, and are therefore instruments which build racism and anti-working class sentiment--against the interest of most teachers and their students,

  • These tests deepen the segregation of children within and between school systems, a move that is not in the interests of most people throughout the world,

  • Inner_city families and poor families are promised tests as an avenue to escape the ghetto and poverty, when the tests are designed to fail their children, boosting dropouts, leaving more children trapped in the ghetto and poverty, deepening inequality and all forms of injustice,

  • The tests set up a false employer_employees relationship between teachers and students which damages honest exchanges in the classroom,

  • I have seen repeatedly that the exams are unprofessionally scored, for example in New York in 2000 when thousands of students were unnecessarily ordered to summer school on the grounds of incorrect test results,

  • The tests create an atmosphere that pits students against students and teachers against teachers and school systems against school systems in a mad scramble for financial rewards, and to avoid financial retribution,

  • The tests have been used to unjustly fire and discipline educators throughout the country,

  • The exams represent an assault on academic freedom by forcing their way into the classroom in an attempt to regulate knowledge, what is known and how people come to know it,

  • The tests foment an atmosphere of greed, fear, and hysteria, none of which contributes to learning,

  • The tests destroy inclusion and inquiry-based education,

  • The high_stakes test pretend to neutrality but are deeply partisan in content, reflecting the needs of elites in a world becoming more inequitable, less democratic, promising the youth of the world perpetual war,

  • The tests become commodities for opportunists whose interests are profits, not the best interests of children.

  • I support the rising tide of education worker resistance to the high-stakes exams, as well as student and educator boycotts.

    Parents and students have a legal right to opt out of the exams, which are little more than child abuse made respectable.

    I hope test boycotts spread and I am quite sure they will--which is the best answer to the NCLB.

    --Rich Gibson, San Diego State University College of Education

    By Amanda Paulson

    When President Bush signed the landmark No Child Left Behind Act five years ago Monday, he conducted a three-state road show, touted its bipartisan roots, and promised it would put US schools "on a new path of reform, and a new path of results."

    In the five years since, critics and admirers of the bill tend to agree about the reform part, but say they're still waiting for results.

    Achievement levels are creeping up toward the 2014 deadline when all public school children are supposed to be "proficient" at math and reading, and the racial and economic achievement gaps have narrowed slightly in a few cases, but not at all in others. . . .

    NOTE: The Christian Science Monitor does not allow full articles to be posted. For the complete piece, go to the hot link below.

    — Amanda Paulson, with comments by S. Krashen and R. Gibson
    Christian Science Monitor


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