Thursday, August 28, 2008

Some Critics on No Child Left Behind

Not everyone is enamored of the standards movement...
Alfie Kohn has called the standards movement a "horrible idea." Kohn points out that the movement oversimplifies why children might want to learn, how they are best taught, and how improvement might best be brought to a complex system. The idea of demanding higher test scores, Kohn notes, will accomplish little more than studying for tests, emphasizing rote learning, and tightening control over classrooms by people who do not spend their time in classrooms.
Gerald Bracey (2004), editor of a research column in Phi Delta Kappan, has been particularly critical. He has spoken out against the No Child Left Behind Act as well as against the standards movement, particularly the standardized testing that has come to be part and parcel of the movement.

Bracey, observing the high price paid in terms of what might be called by some nonstrategic subjects:
In what might be considered its swan song, the Council for Basic Education conducted a survey and found NCLB producing "academic atrophy" in social studies, history, geography, civics, languages, and the arts. A little more of this, and we can declare, "No Education Left." (p.166)
Marzano, Kendall, and Cicchinelli (2000), who are not particularly critical of the movement, note an apparently overlooked problem with addressing the standards. Their calculations show that, given the demands of the standards and accompanying benchmarks from the various subject matter areas, it would take more than 15,000 hours to adequately address the necessary content. Put another way, Marzano, Kendall, and Cicchinelli say the implication for coverage would be to extend school from K-12 to K-21. They conclude that one possible solution would be to extend the amount of time given to instruction, and another would be to decrease the number of standards.
James Popham cites three reasons why schools should not be judged on the basis of standardized test scores: 1) Mismatch between what is taught and what is tested. 2) Standardized tests do not measure the most important things that teachers teach. 3) Over time teachers become familiar with the content of standardized tests, and that leads to an inflation of test results because teachers, knowingly or not, end up teaching to the test.
Research on Education Innovations
Fourth Edition
Arthur K. Ellis
2005 Eye on Education, Inc.
New York, USA

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