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NCLB Outrages

Tests Give Look at How Students Perform

Ohanian Comment: Look up the Pennsylvania No Child Left Behind Coalition and you will get news releases from the U. S. Department of Education and a news release from the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

I find the syntax, metaphors, and logic in this article rather startling. Would this pass a state writing test?

Television ads airing recently in Pennsylvania criticize President Bush's education plan, No Child Left Behind, which works to ensure all children receive the skills necessary to compete in this fast-paced world.

These ads depict one teacher complaining about the standardized testing involved. These complaints lead to the assertion that testing is the crux of the entire NCLB program.

NCLB is not all about the testing, but because it has received so much bad publicity from this ad and elsewhere, I want to respond. Testing is a necessary foundation to build a better education system.

You would never want people walking into a doctor's office saying: "Don't bother with the X-ray and blood tests, just get to the treatment." The first step in helping all our children to move ahead in their education is to start by testing the richness of the curriculum and seeing where each school matches up statewide. That way, teachers, administrators and parents all will know what are the areas where students need to improvement.

The testing simply becomes a facilitator for information so appropriate money can be apportioned. Tests are a snapshot look every year at how well our children are being taught.

It is the job of educators to evaluate their learning so students can improve, and by doing so, educators themselves will improve. It is called accountability. Education works this way, just as other tasks and jobs do. If we really care about our students, we will not only challenge them to be accountable for learning the material assigned, but we also will hold ourselves accountable to the learning standards we set. It is common sense, and it makes good sense.

Our students have a right to know what kind of education they are receiving so, as they enter the workforce, they can compete and meet high standards. Parents have a right to know how their children and teachers are performing.

Anyone who pays taxes supports the education system, so the entire community has a right to know how its schools are stacking up. Ultimately, the only way to know whether children are learning is to measure, and measure regularly. NOT ONLY does testing empower all of us to raise the bar on the education system, it also gets parents involved in schools, produces a public report card of accountability and brings unity, purpose and focus to teachers. They feel a greater desire to work together to make certain all children receive the same excellent education statewide.

Ultimately No Child Left Behind helps channel funds and resources to our children who need them most. Excuses about our children's education are no longer acceptable under the NCLB program. Now is the time to raise the bar on education. We need to give our children the education they deserve and do so with the proper preparatory measures.

COLLEEN SHEEHAN of Wayne is chair of the Pennsylvania No Child Left Behind Coalition, a Villanova University professor and a former state representative.

— Colleen Sheehan


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