Sunday, December 27, 2009

No child left behind... well, except for those over there

I've never been a big fan of the No Child Left Behind Act. The goal of holding schools and districts accountable for teaching all of their students, is wonderful. But the method; namely tying school funding to the outcome of high stakes tests, is sorely lacking. For starters, high stakes testing is no substitute for educational reform. Trying to close the Achievement Gap with high stakes testing is like trying to cure a fever with a thermometer. But more significantly, we've argued consistently here on the blog that the high stakes testing model is fraught with unintended consequences. Foremost among these being #1. that lower performing Title I schools 'protect' themselves against economic sanctions through the implementation of adapted curriculums (more block hours on NCLB testable disciplines to the exclusion of civics, the humanities, and some science courses). #2 lower performing title I schools tend towards an increased focus on basic proficiency and a decreased focus on high achievement. And #3 - that the cumulative effect of both #1 and #2 is that we would actually see a 'hardening' of the achievement gap even in schools that met their goals for AYP (Annual Yearly Progress).


Last week, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that the Racial scoring gap on SAT II subject tests has Widened significantly! They report:
On the 11 most popular SAT II tests listed in the accompanying table, the racial scoring gap has increased over the past decade. In most cases the scoring gap has significantly increased unfavorably for African Americans. The only exception is the physics test, where the racial gap over the past 10 years has increased by only two points.

The largest increase in the racial scoring gap has been on the Spanish SAT II subject test. On this test in 1999 the racial gap was 47 points. It has now opened up to 83 points. The scoring gap has increased by a large margin on tests for French, chemistry, biology, Latin, mathematics, and American history.
Educational Activists around the country need to hold Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama's feet to the fire to implement the educational reforms we heard so much about during the campaign. Between the myopic push to eliminate deseg programs and return to neighborhood schools, the failure to seriously explore the charter school concept as an incubator for educational reform, and the woefully inadequate NCLB act, we are losing ground with regard to the academic achievement gap. The gap that began to narrow in the 70's and 80's as schools around the country even half-heartedly desegregated is now widening once more...

If you'd like to read more on the subject... HERE is an interesting report on the discrepancies between the high stakes NCLB reported test scores and the independent NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test scores.

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Jung/Myers Briggs

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
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