No Child Left Behind, “one of President George W. Bush’s most touted domestic accomplishments,” according to the Huffington Post, is no longer in effect in 10 states. President Barack Obama has freed these states from certain restrictions of No Child Left Behind, such as using only standardized test scores as a way to measure academic competency, and they will also be allowed to take subjects other than reading and math into account when judging students’ progress. These 10 states are also free from meeting the 2014 deadline for every public school in America to have their students “up to speed.”
In response to the states’ removal of No Child Left Behind from education requirements, some Tea Party Republicans claim this is a “cop out” from helping to educate minorities and impoverished people whose scores may be less than ideal.
It’s important to note that each of the 10 states was required to submit an alternative to No Child Left Behind for approval before they could make alterations to their education requirements.
I didn’t attend a public school, so I have no experience with No Child Left Behind testing and academic measurements. So, I turned to a friend and classmate, sophomore Jack Hess, to shed light on the situation through his personal experiences and opinions regarding No Child Left Behind during his high school years: “Based on my understanding …it was a lofty goal in the first place… it’s just not feasible.”
Hess cited the presence of students whose first language may not be English or those with learning disabilities as a reason for the lack of legitimacy and fairness of the testing process. “How are they supposed to be immediately expected to pass with 70 percent proficiency [on the English portion of the test]? How are they expected to pass the test in the same amount of time as the so-called ‘normal’ children?” Hess said. He also expressed his belief that teachers, due to outside pressure from the administration, are forced to teach to fit the test, which makes them less effective teachers overall.
Also, Hess brought up a pertinent point when taking schools’, in this case his former high school’s, goals and desired learning outcomes into account: “The administration kind of pushed those boundaries and stretched those rules anyway just to get improvement from the students …I think it should be less about where we are now, and more about where we want to be.”
If schools aren’t constantly clawing to achieve a certain status quo grade through standardized testing and the styles of teaching typically geared toward that type of curriculum, perhaps better outcomes could be achieved. “It may sound foolish, but why aim for only 70 percent proficiency when the goal should be 100 percent?” Hess asked.
I think his argument is a valid one, and I find myself in agreement: for instance, based off of my grades in both high school and college, I am an above-average student. Based off of my standardized test scores (in my case, just the SATs and ACTs), I’m a decent student who’s incompetent in math. I’m neither a minority nor impoverished, and still my scores are less than desirable.
Also, I think it makes more sense for the 10 states to include subjects such as science, social studies and any others they deem fit for testing simply for the fact that they are all taught in school: if students need to devote time in school to a wide range of subjects, I don’t see why they should be expected to focus on just two, especially when they determine the student’s overall proficiency and competency.
Some who oppose the repeal may claim that there may be lack of accountability for schools to perform well if they can’t be gauged by the No Child Left Behind standards. However, I think each state offering its own individual set of standards, along with repercussions for schools that may continue to under perform, make a high performance outcome feasible. The same level of performance in every single state is hardly achievable, even if only taking population into account, so expected levels of performance tailored to fit each individual state may alleviate pressure on school districts, administrations and faculty.
I’d enjoy seeing No Child Left Behind repealed in more states, if only based off my opinion that standardized tests are obsolete and not a fair representation of a student’s academic and intellectual ability. Again, by citing my lackluster scores (and the fact that I don’t think I even needed to submit them to certain colleges during the application process, even though that’s one of their remaining functions) having zero effect on my attending college, I don’t see how they play a significant role in today’s education system.
Students aren’t robots, and shouldn’t be treated as another number required to process and regurgitate specific information to prove their worth; they’re people with individual learning needs, which should be catered to by both teachers and schools.