In January of 2002, President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law. This act required that each state develop standardized tests for basic skills and administer the tests to all students in order to receive federal funding for their school. Each state was required to set progress goals, and each school in the state must make adequate yearly progress, meaning that each year, the current students must perform better on the test than the previous students. If these progress goals were not met continually, schools were in jeopardy of losing federal funding, and teachers were in jeopardy of losing their jobs. The ultimate goal of the No Child Left Behind Act was to have 100% of students in a school reach the state requirements by 2014.
Currently, 33 states have received waivers from the government granting flexibility from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act. The fact that so many states were granted waivers really shows how bad this act really was. This waiver loosened the 100% goal for schools and allowed them to “...improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction” (www.ed.gov). The waiver shifts the accountability away from the teachers and school districts and allows them to implement new ideas to stimulate progress. Since the waivers were just granted this year, it is not yet clear their impact on students. In the coming year, more information will come to light in how being granted the waiver affected students and how the progress of individuals is being affected. Since these waivers have been allowed, congress is really now able to look back on the different provisions put in place by the NCLB Act and evaluate whether or not they actually worked. One of those provisions that I believe has had a negative impact on our schools is standardized testing.
Standardized tests have destroyed our school system. Instead of using test scores to place students in the correct classes and determine what kind of help they need, the test scores have been published in the papers and have been used to judge students, schools, and teachers. These test scores have held children behind and have not gifted them the help they needed These punishments hurt schools and haven't helped students at all. To prevent a further decline in funding to other areas of education, standardized testing needs to be reworked and reevaluated in order to close gaps between students and give each student a quality education catered to his/her own individual needs.
Many supporters of standardized testing encourage such tests because they allow teachers to plan their lessons around exactly what students need to learn. However, planning lessons in this manner only makes time for lessons that will be taught on the tests. This takes away the time and resources from other important subjects that students should be allowed to explore. In fact, many schools devote almost twenty-five percent of the school year purely to test preparation (Kozol). And this is just for test preparation! The other seventy-five percent of the school year must fit in all of the other classes. Since most of the standardized tests only test on reading, writing, and mathematics, most of the seventy-five percent of the school year left after standardized test prep is devoted to these subjects. This causes the rest of the subjects such as art, physical education, science, and history classes to get placed on the back burner. Students are being forced to devote most of their time to the subjects that will be on the standardized tests. Students that do not have strengths or interest in the areas being tested are severely being neglected. Standardized testing supporters simply writes this off, saying that focusing on the things being tested and eliminating other activities is a great thing that allows greater learning...