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NCLB Outrages

One Way to Raise Test Scores

by George Sheridan

Today, a teacher from Fresno County, California, told me that he had
been a principal but had been sent back to the classroom because of
low test scores in his school.

What he thought was ironic about the story was that four years before
the low scores, he had received a $10,000 performance bonus from the
State of California for improving scores at his school. As a new
principal, he had noticed that most students did not finish all items
on the state test. So he directed teachers to tell students, two
minutes before the end of the testing session, to choose a letter and
bubble in all remaining answers with that letter. Voila! improved
scores, which the politicians could trumpet as evidence that
"increased accountability" is "working."

Obviously, none of these short-term strategies truly improve student
learning. Nor can they result ultimately in all students being
labeled "Proficient" by the year 2014 or any other year. But they are
the all-too-predictable result of a system that emphasizes test
scores over any other outcomes.

— George Sheridan
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