Opinion: The Number Two Pencil Tests Right Is Failing Students

The No Child Left Behind Act is not working, instead it is leaving a nation of children behind. A system based upon testing and statistics is not how to elevate students to knowledgeable adults. In the future it may be well called Leaving Everyone Behind.

Tests are not how children learn. Under the No Child Left Behind era reading and math were the only objective. Children have been subjected to cuts in other fields of education.

Using test scores as a measure to how well a school is doing and then how much funding that they receive has failed.

Progressive.org reports:

“The achievement gap between whites, blacks and Hispanics — as well as with rich and poor students – was well known before NCLB and it does nothing to close the gap,” says Fair Test’s Robert Schaeffer. “You don’t need to set up a system that punishes schools instead of helping them and creates pressures for classrooms to become test prep centers.”

Reading and math instruction are the main core subjects being taught at length due to the standardized tests.With 75 percent of class time dominated by teaching for the test other important skills are being neglected. That leaves subjects like history, geography, civics, and science fraying in the wind.

Without the basics that children used to get in primary grades once a child gets to high school they don’t have a foundation for these core subjects.

As Monty Neill, Ed.D. states the schools are pushing out students unprepared for college level work. The U.S. cannot test its way to better schools.

The system itself has the pit fall for setting schools and teachers up to fail. Disabled students and students where English is not their first language drag down the test scores. Some schools are now in the position of having to drive those students out of their schools to qualify for that prized funding dollar according to Neill.

The risk of losing funding could drive schools to cooking the books, juggling the numbers, and “customizing” definitions of grade levels and ethnic origins to stay ahead. Teachers are having to leave the very schools that need them to be eligible for raises. If your school is failing you don’t get the big bucks. If the tests are failing the students who else can be blamed but the teachers? That would seem the right answer except the best teachers don’t teach for the testing, they teach for learning. And that often does not mix.

What the United States has created is a system that will produce more unemployable members of society. Jobs are not based upon test scores. Employers want well rounded, educated employees.

Somehow learning how to pencil in the right box with your number two pencil just isn’t cutting the job.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents sat in one room school houses soaking up knowledge. Today there are so many methods and theories around on how to best educate and yet the schools fail. Perhaps it is time to take a few steps back and examine how schools succeeded in the past and apply those methods to schools today.


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