Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How to improve the No Child Left Behind Act

Recently, President Bush declared that the No Child Left Behind Act has been successful at improving test scores across the country. The Act is up for renewal. Should it be renewed?

Perhaps the No Child Left Behind Act works like a placebo. Any placebo is likely to have a positive effect. The question is whether the positive effect is significantly better than what would have occurred without it, or with an alternative. That is the subject for some future research but we can form some hypothesi. For example, are improved scores the result of a greater focus on teaching towards the successful completion of the tests? Or, could it be the result of a common measuring system, the result of standardizing what is taught across the country?

Whether we believe these test results, or not, there are good reasons why teachers across the country disagree with the Act. It is because teachers recognize that learning is a complex activity that cannot be adequately tested for in a few short hours. Educators agree that testing is necessary. It is how to adequately test that is the issue. How can we reconcile the need for testing and the need for a rich educational experience?

In my GE.E.K. model of teaching, testing would be incorporated into students' daily activities. Every concept needs to be tested for to ensure that students achieve mastery of a concept before moving on to new concepts. At appropriate times students should be tested on clusters of concepts to determine if they understand the relationship between concepts. An ongoing teaching-testing-feedback loop enhances the learning process and eliminates the need for "big brother" style testing.

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Anonymous Peony said...

People should read this.

8:52 AM  

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