One of the stated goals of the standardized tests required by No Child Left Behind and similar laws is to raise student achievement as reflected in the test schools. There are two ways to do that, however. Either you can find ways to increase a child’s knowledge of a particular subject – through better teaching methods, smaller classes, quality materials, etc. – or by lowering the passing score on the tests. I’ll give you two guesses as to which is happening.
According to the Arizona Republic:
This year, Arizona will lower its proficiency rate for the math portion of Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, the big state test. The modified test will reflect what state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne calls a "more reasonable" expectation of what Arizona students can do.
Thus my home state follows in the footsteps of Texas, California, Colorado and other states that are lowering the passing scores on their standardized tests so that seniors can still graduate, kids get promoted to the next grade and schools avoid the nasty failure label as required by NCLB.
One of the problems with the way politicians are forcing high stakes testing down the throats of states is that they expect big results before the next election. But the method of achieving those results cannot get too many parents upset, so they must come without any major changes to the traditional structure of school. That’s the catch-22 in all this. In order to begin fixing the major problems we have in public education these days we need to make major changes in all aspects of institution, from school schedules to the way we train and retrain teachers to the very structure of what we call school. And all of those changes are going to take more time than the politicians can afford.