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Standardized Testing and the NCLB Act

Did you know that by the year 2013-2014 100% of students need to be proficient in the basic skills on statewide tests? This includes every single student in a school... learning disabled, special education, emotially impaired, bilingual students.

This is the mandate of the No Child Left Behind Act set up in 2003. Every year schools in my state must administer a statewide test, which assesses each school's progress in meeting the Grade Level Content Expectations and guidelines. In the recent past, the United States government, under the proposal pushed forward by our President, George W. Bush, adopted the No Child Left Behind act, NCLB.

When standardized tests are given, it costs the state money. The state needs to pay for the printing of the test, the writing of the test, the
scoring of the test, and the reporting of the test. Michigan has given statewide tests long before the NCLB act went into effect. My main concern regarding standardized testing is: How are the results used, and are they taking into effect all the data that is given from the testing?

First of all, I ask myself this simple question: Would I want my entire performance analyzed from one test? Is that a true way to judge how well I'm doing? What if the test is poorly written? What if I'm sick the day of the test and can't concentrate? Other questions of a similar nature also enter my mind.

Another thing that I do not like about standardized testing is how big an impact they have on today's schools. Teachers can lose their job, and schools can close because of them. True, this may help weed out the teachers that shouldn't be teaching, but I STRONGLY oppose the idea of teaching toward a test. Many schools have no choice at this time, especially if they performed poorly this past school year. They need to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or political
people (government) may intervene.

What are teachers supposed to do? Do I teach toward the test, to make sure my students will do well on the "high and mighty test"? Do I continue teaching my students the curriculum, and cross my fingers that they'll perform well on the test? I'm a highly qualified teacher, and I'm nervous about the future of education in my country.

Want to know what I really think?

I think the whole NCLB act is unplanned and a dream thought up in the middle of the night by some idiot. Do we really think we can meet the goals? It would be wonderful if we could, but because of this, it appears that over HALF of the schools in the U.S. are failing.

The NCLB Act is underfunded by around 6 BILLION dollars. Where is the money going for this? Guess..... (hint- think of something that we're sinking millions of dollars into)

The NEA and AFT both have ideas to compensate this terrible education plan, which could possibly put us farther behind than we already are. I do feel that some of what the NCLB act is trying to do is solid, but when you're not funding schools, how can it succeed.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) feel that there are solutions available. They stress four main areas to focus on: Adequate Yearly Progress, Highly Qualified Staff, School Improvement, and Funding.
You can look at their plan HERE:

The National Education Association (NEA) also feels that the NCLB act is hurting more than helping.
You can look at what it says here, and read why:

Schools are closing, or consolidating with other schools. Teachers are losing their passion, and deciding to leave the profession. Many others are deciding not to even bother considering teaching as a profession.

What can we do to improve it?: We need to realize that Standardized testing is not the solution to making schools better.
The keys to making schools successful are the teachers, and the supportive communities around them. I hope and pray that schools can make a stand against this current plan, and once again be allowed to be creative and imaginative. The way things are currently working, before long we’ll all be teaching toward the test, and I would hate to have it go that way. I’m sure teaching wouldn't be that much fun anymore, and my classroom would be dull and boring. At that time that I would seriously consider a change in profession.