Writing in The Nation magazine, Linda Darling Hammond does an excellent job of reviewing the failure of No Child Left Behind as the law approaches it’s fifth anniversary and reauthorization.

While the whole article covers a lot of interesting (if familiar) territory, early on Hammond sums up in one sentence the mess that is NCLB.

At base, the law has misdefined the problem. It assumes that what schools need is more carrots and sticks rather than fundamental changes.

In the course of the rest of the story, Hammond goes into detail on five ways that NCLB has had a negative impact on American education.

A Focus on Testing Rather Than Investing.
Disincentives for Improving Learning.
Narrowing the Curriculum.
Distracting Schools From Productive Reforms.
Punishing the Neediest Schools and Students.

Depressing! We have spent five years, not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars, building up the testing industry in the US while avoiding the difficult discussions about what our students should really be learning in the brief time they have in K12 classrooms.

Read the whole thing. It’s a long article but well worth some of your time.

nclb, hammond, school reform