The DEATH and LIFE of the
GREAT AMERICAN School System
- George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act in January 2002
- At its heart were accountability and choice.
- States were to create standards and choose their own test as well as determine what the level of proficiency was individually.
- If schools did not perform as projected or determined within the state standards, which coincided with NCLB, then there would be several consequences.
- The nature of schools drastically changed; making standardized testing the primary measure of school quality.
- Scores in Reading and Math became critical variable in judging students, teachers, principals, and schools.
Pros vs. Cons
- Assesses students’ mastery of the basic skills annually in Reading and Math
- Improved test scores
- Decrease in the achievement gap
- Increase in high quality teachers
- Additional testing helps identify low-performing students
- Increases the number of schools attaining AYP
- Demands higher test scores in basic skills
- Ignores other important subjects; such as social studies, science, the arts, etc.
-Program funding is lacking each year
- Multiple choice testing is the only measure of student performance
- Teachers are forced to teach to the test
- Teachers are penalized for working in high risk schools
- All students regardless of their native language or ability level are held to the same standard
A Rapid End to a Promising Beginning...
- In the 1991 and 1992, the U.S Department of Education awarded grants to professional groups of teachers and scholars to develop voluntary national standards in history, English Language Arts, Science, Civics, Economics, the arts, foreign languages, Geography, and physical education
- Controversy struck as the proposed national standards were scrutinized for its political biases.
- The Clinton Administration then passed a law stating that every state should write its own standards, pick its own tests, and be accountable for achievement. The task of identifying what students should learn-the heart of curriculum standards- was left to each state.
- The Clinton Administration’s Goals 2000 program gave states federal money to write their own academic standards, but most of the state standards were vague when it came to any curriculum content.
- The standards movement died in 1995, when the controversy over the national history standards came to high boil.
WHERE DID EDUCATION REFORM GO WRONG?
- The 1982 publication of A Nation at Risk played a role in the rise and fall of the standards movement, and its contrast with NCLB
- ANAR encouraged states and the nation to craft genuine curriculum standards in many subjects
- Prepared by the National Commission on Excellence in Education
- Addressed problems that were intrinsic to schooling, such as curriculum, graduation requirements, teacher preparation, and quality of textbooks
- The report was a plea to make our schools function better in their core mission as academic institutions and to make our educational system live up to our nation’s ideals
- Stronger high school graduation requirements
- The Five New Basics - 4 years of English - 3 years of Mathematics - 3 years of Science - 3 years of social studies - ½ year of computer science
- Higher standards for academic performance and student conduct
- More time devoted to instruction and homework
- Higher standards for entry into teaching profession
- Better salaries for teachers