Introduction to Assessment Measurement and Evaluation
April 19, 2011
Smyth, Soublis Theoni (February 2008). Who Is No Child Left Behind Leaving Behind. Clearing House, Vol. 81, Issue 3, 133-137
Now ten years since the election of former President Bush, our nation is questioning the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act. In this article the authors provide the rundown on the brief history of educational testing, the debate of teaching the test and the side effects of testing; especially on minorities.
Every four years around election time, presidential hopefuls declare how they plan to cure the world of its poor health. Rumor has it that, these candidates can lower taxes, produce world peace, clear our streets of crime and practically educate every child in America in four short years. One particular candidate stated that he would build up the most significant education plan in our nation’s history. He guaranteed every child in America would read on grade level and that every teacher would be highly qualified to teach our students. This plan sounded laudable, therefore we elected Bush as our president in 2001. Educators have since then discovered that the plan is flawed, leaving more students, teachers and schools behind than before.
Standardized testing began during World War I when the U.S. Army military officials started testing recruits for suitable positions. The assessment sorted recruits based on intellect, ability and potential. Now since NCLB, these tests are used to decide student promotion and placement, teacher salary, school accreditation, district funding and graduation opportunity. Politicians and state departments of education construct criterion-referenced exams to measure student performance and ability.
This excessive testing is forcing instruction to change from exploratory learning, to teaching the test through drill and kill. Teaching the test is reducing the chance for teachers to implant in our students higher-order thinking skills and is highly inappropriate conduct.
The debate surrounding the side effects of standardized testing is appropriately focused on teachers and students. Negative side effects are linked to teacher decision making, instruction and student learning. The truth is that the tests have turned into the objective of classroom instruction instead of the measure of teaching and learning. Another side effect of testing is testing anxiety; it is concluded that elementary students were anxious and angry about the length of tests, extended testing periods and not being able to talk for long amounts of time. When students are drilled everyday about testing procedures and consequences; the fear of failure takes over and student anxiety increases.
The argument against the side effects of testing goes beyond student and teacher anxiety. Freeman (2005) argues that a “colorblind racism” ensues under the NCLB mandate, which disregards the realities of racial disparities. When test stakes rise, people seek professional resources. Of course wealthy families, schools and districts can afford these tutorials. Lower-performing schools cannot afford to offer these high-priced resources for testing. NCLB is leaving minority and economically disadvantaged students behind. Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and minorities are not receiving equal educational opportunities. I agree with the authors because I myself have attended schools in different states and have witnessed the difference between preparation and resources. Money is the driving force behind the testing industry and these tests are simply the platform for many political campaigns. I believe that as long as these tests are more important than our students; the only thing they will ever learn is how to bubble in the circle on a test sheet.