Sunday, April 19, 2009

No Child Left Behind

In 2001 No Child Left Behind was passed by congress in hopes of bringing American public schools to the standards of other countries. It has a number of holes in it as the law originally had in 1964 when it was passed and was altered in 2001 to provide for, among other things, the testing of teachers prior to hiring. This is one area I focus on when looking at the issue as one that is self defeating because the law reinforces teaching to the test as students learning to become teachers know that the only thing that really matters at the end of their college career is passing the Praxis exam because it means that a job will likely be available.
The other big issue is the state testing requirement. The government determined that requiring states to make their own qualifications for students was a good idea. Each state now has to have testing for each grade level that determines the skill level of their students. These tests allow for teachers to teach to the test along with the state core curriculum content standards. Teachers are given little leeway and so are the students affected by the lessons built using the content standards. In order to make the system better the state should mandate interaction between students and teachers and test these teachers on their abilities to make the classroom a warm and comfortable environment. Instead the test of knowledge tests solely knowledge.
The Praxis can also serve as a deterrent to some and a saving grace to others as people looking into the education field may realize that the only thing that truly matters in the end is passing the test. It does not mean that the best teachers get the job as the best teachers may have backed out in fear of the Praxis or decided that since their scores on the Praxis are lower they will not pursue a teaching career. It is not a good idea to let one test determine anyone’s life whether they are an educator or not. It is especially hypocritical in the teaching profession as teachers are supposed to keep giving extra chances to students who do not test well. The idea of No Child Left Behind is to provide better teachers to make better students. It is a good intent but the way the government mandates that is not a good idea.

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