"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, December 30, 2007

NY Times Letters on NCLB Testing

From a parent and a professor, to the NY Times:

To the Editor:

Teachers are not the only ones pushing for changes to the No Child Left Behind Act (“Democrats Make Bush School Act an Election Issue,” front page, Dec. 23).

The National School Boards Association and National PTA have worked for years to reform this law. As a mother of three and local school board member, I am strongly opposed to President Bush’s underfinanced mandate, which labels schools as “failing” and entices students to transfer out.

The highest-income and most mobile students tend to leave, putting schools and children left behind into a tailspin, with fewer resources for the students who need the most.

The labels are highly misleading. Is a school truly failing if a few students do not take a test?

Yes, we must remain accountable for the achievement of all students. But endless standardized testing and destructive measures disguised as support are undermining efforts in every community to provide a quality public education for all children.

Ruth Adkins
Portland, Ore., Dec. 23, 2007

To the Editor:

No debate: the No Child Left Behind Act has not worked.

“Democrats Make Bush School Act an Election Issue” (front page, Dec. 23) notes that “policy makers debate whether the law has raised student achievement.”

There is no debate among those who have looked at the data. The law has not produced improvements on state or national reading tests, nor have achievement gaps been narrowed. There has also been no change on American fourth graders’ scores on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study tests from 2001 to 2006. (No Child Left Behind was introduced in the 2002-3 school year.)

Despite huge increases in instructional time and billions of dollars spent, there have been no improvements.

Stephen Krashen
Los Angeles, Dec. 23, 2007
The writer is professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California.

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