Susan Hobart, M. S. Ed. , a teacher in the Midwest wrote an article in which she chronicled her experiences before and after the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) initiative began. What sticks out is that at the end of the school day she feels demoralized over the purpose, or lack thereof, of her teaching. Prior to NCLB the purpose and goal of her classroom instruction was to teach students how to learn. Now the purpose is to teach students how to take a test.
This causes some weaknesses and disparities in the educational model that no longer serve the greater purpose of education which is to prepare students to analyze and apply skills that they learn in school. NCLB focuses on assessment, achievement tests, and accountability, funding based on test scores. Hobart claims that the primary skills she teaches are test taking skills, including how to completely shade the answer key, compared to ten years ago when she taught students how to translate what they learned into personal experiences through practical application.
There is not enough instruction time in a school day to achieve both practical application and teach test taking skills. Low income, minority, and non English proficient students may benefit more from experience and application than from test skills. Teachers are forced to focus on reading and math (test) proficiency with students who may not yet be English proficient. With this in mind, the Department of Education has approved a Differentiated Accountability Program.
Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, and Georgia will be experimenting and sharing information on models where they determine specific needs of certain students and will be able to control the allocation of resources and strategies used in those schools and/or districts in most need. NCLB illuminates the benefit of private schools – a teaching model that is not bound by proficiency testing, and funding that is not dependent on test scores.
Public schools are supposed to provide the same benefits for families who choose to utilize the public education system. Public education should separate programs that focus on developing English proficiency as a prerequisite to other skills, math and reading comprehension, critical and analytical thinking, and alternative learning skills for special education students. The Differentiated Accountability pilot can achieve that end while maintaining scoring under NCLB, or it may suggest an alternative testing model as well.
References Hobart, S J (August 2008). One Teacher’s Cry: Why I Hate No Child Left Behind. (Viewpoint essay). The Progressive, 72, 8. p. 24(3). Retrieved October 13, 2008, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodId=IPS Six states chosen for ED accountability pilot. (United States Department of Education )(Brief article). (Sept 23, 2008). A S H A Leader, 13, 13. p. 37(1). Retrieved October 13, 2008, from General OneFile via Gale: http://find. galegroup. com/ips/start. do? prodId=IPS