wasting bandwidth since 1999

Learning the Wrong Things

The page 1 headline screams Scores Up Since ‘No Child’ Was Signed.

A “major independent study” says that students test scores on state reading and math tests are “significantly better” in the five years since NCLB was singed into law.

So, NCLB must be a big success and deserves to be renewed, right?

Of course.

But only if you believe that passing standardized tests is the same thing as learning. If taking up a large part of the school year drilling on basic facts is really preparing students for living in the real world.

If you’re convinced that treating every student, every school, every classroom, every teacher exactly the same is good professional practice, then by all means sign us up for another five years.

Then there’s the matter of test quality. Since every state gets to determine what “passing” means, do you seriously think the tests themselves are even valid indicators of the narrow skill set they’re supposed to measure?

Many politicians will go for the simple conclusion when reading this study (more likely the executive summary), but let’s face facts.

The only thing the research really shows is that our kids are getting much better at taking standardized tests.

A skill that adults rarely have occasion to use.

nclb, study, renewal

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1 Comment

  1. Oh — but I use “standardize testing taking skills” EVERYDAY in my life! Isn’t life just a series of choices — a, b, c, or d?! (Just joking)

    You hit the nail right on the head with this post. Too bad the MSM won’t address these issues.

    It’s funny — when I was in high school we were told that we should take the ACT and SAT at least twice because our scores would naturally go up after the first attempt simply because we “would become familiar with the format of the questions” — not that we would know more of the answers, just that we would become more familiar with how the questions were written. And — they gave us practice tests to help us become even more familiar with the structure.

    Our students are simply becoming more familiar with the structure of these tests as they take them year after year — and in some cases, the structure and test-taking strategies are being explicitly taught in classes… at the expense of more valuable curriculum content. Sad.

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