Big Brother Bad News in the Classroom

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

We've all been told no child should be left behind when it comes to education. But some people are not convinced federal and state mandated programs are the most effective way to teach our children how to read.

Brittany Ritchie is a first-grader at Lacey Springs Elementary. She reads well for her age and reading specialist Karen Kee said that's because her parents and teachers are involved. But Kee wonders how that might change once the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation intrudes.

"Teaching reading to children should be left in the hands of teachers and specialists. We know the children. We work with them every day. We know what strategies work and don't work. Not all strategies from the state will work with certain children. It depends," she said.

Education professor Richard Allington agrees. He wrote the book, "Big Brother and the National Reading Curriculum,” and said federal and state mandated testing is costing localities five times as much to teach their students.

"This new federal law represents what I think is a major unwarranted intrusion on local control," Allington said.

He said the government has misrepresented scientific research on education and yet it's still requiring schools to comply with that research for federal money.

"There's no scientific evidence that shows you can test your way to better test scores or test kids to improve teaching," he said.

And Allington said states like Virginia that have invested heavily in standardized testing have shown little progress.

Allington said the key to education success is reduced class size, higher teacher salaries and better criteria credentials.

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No Child Left Behind

  • President George W. Bush signed into law the “No Child Left Behind Act” on Jan. 8, 2002.

  • This law changes the federal government’s role in kindergarten through grade-12 education by asking America’s schools to describe their success in terms of what each student accomplishes.

  • The act contains the President’s four basic education reform principles:
    • Stronger accountability of r results.
    • Increased flexibility and local control.
    • Expanded option for parents.
    • An emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to work.

    Accountability for Test Results

    • Beginning in the 2002-03 school year, schools must administer tests in each of three grade spans: grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12 in all schools.
    • Results of these tests will show up in annual state and district report cards, so parents can measure their school's performance and their state's progress.
    • These reports show us achievement gaps between students who are economically disadvantaged, from racial and ethnic minority groups, have disabilities, or have limited English proficiency. The report cards will also sort results by gender and migrant status.
    • Within twelve years, all students must perform at a proficient level under their state standards. But, states will set their own standards for each grade, so each state will say how well children should be reading at the end of third grade

    Source: www.nochildleftbehind.org


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