January 13, 2012 12:02:00 PM
When they crafted the No Child Left Behind legislation, lawmakers should have turned to educators. They could have told legislators that you can't teach children to think if you are simply coaching them to pass a test.
With quality distribution indices and adequate yearly progress looming overhead, it's hard to be the kind of teacher who inspires students. Every time the laws and tests are revamped, we get further away from the kind of teaching we really want to see.
Students start the school year off with pretests and finish it off with posttests. Throughout the year, they take practice tests.
Test after test after test, all to prepare for a test.
We've somehow come to define success by how well students perform on a single test on a single day. It's a disservice to teachers and students.
Great teachers aren't measured by tests and accountability labels alone. And how well a student grasps a concept can't be measured by his or her performance on one test.
Yes, teachers should be held accountable for how well they are doing their jobs. And students should be tested to see how much they retain and understand. But the pressure of these high-stakes tests is taking the innovation out of the classroom.
No Child Left Behind was drafted with good intentions, one of which was to offer measurable achievement goals, a valid goal. It succeeded in bringing attention to an often overlooked population -- special education students. Schools began to focus attention to them since they have to be tested, too, and even began incorporating them into traditional classes as much as possible.
Our fear is that more children are being left behind, as teachers focus less on the students and more on their test scores.
Somewhere there is a compromise where teachers have the freedom to do more than teach to a test and still are held accountable for how effective their methods are.
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