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NCLB Quackery

If it wasn’t published under the banner of the New York Times, you might think this story came from the Onion or was a correspondent’s piece on the Daily Show.

The S.M.U. School of Education and Human Development, which opened this fall with 1,100 students, teaches programs that are aligned with President Bush’s hallmark education program, No Child Left Behind, and that the school says are based on the kind of research protocols used in science and medicine.

While Southern Methodist’s approach puts the university on the front lines of national reform efforts, it also makes it a target for criticism. Especially vocal are educators who contend that No Child Left Behind, which requires schools to show annual progress in reading and math, focuses too narrowly on testing.

Critics also say that dependence upon one method of teaching may be too rigid for contemporary classrooms.

Comparing NCLB to science and medicine? These friends of W seem to have the same poor understanding of those fields of study that he does. Generally, medicine requires some kind of scientific evidence before a treatment is approved for use on humans.

However, there is no research showing that continuous testing programs accompanied by an all-threat, no-reward assessment does anything to improve teaching and learning. But we’re using this "medicine" on kids anyway.

NCLB also assumes that all students, schools and teachers are the same and require the same processes for improvement. There are few doctors around who prescribe the exact same treatment for every one of their patients.

Beyond that, keep in mind that this latest prescription for improving teaching comes from the state that spawned the concepts that became NCLB. Concepts which did little but push administrators to use fraud and deception in propping up the testing numbers and damping down the drop out rate.

As you can imagine, W’s Secretary of Education is thrilled with SMU opening NCLB University.

Ms. Spellings disagreed, saying that major overhauls of teacher preparation and accountability are the only way to improve learning.

That part is true. However, she should have learned by this time that propaganda is not the way to do it.

nclb, smu, spellings, fraud

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2 Comments

  1. “Comparing NCLB to science and medicine? These friends of W seem to have the same poor understanding of those fields of study that he does. Generally, medicine requires some kind of scientific evidence before a treatment is approved for use on humans.”

    You seem to be unaware of a major component of
    No Behind Left. One of the great virtues of this
    much-needed law is precisely that it calls for
    sound, research-based programs. This requirement
    is of course painful to educationist charlatans
    who revel in quackery.

  2. Tim

    You’re right that we need sound, research-based programs. However, most of NCLB is based on guess work. There is no valid research which shows the testing programs at the heart of NCLB do anything other than improve short-term memorization skills.

    Even worse, is the law’s assumption that every student requires exactly the same education. If there’s one thing that research has shown, it’s that different people have different learning styles. Not everyone learns the same way, at the same pace and no amount of testing and threatening penalties will change that.

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