Education policies has been down a shaky road since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was first administered in 1965, allowing federal funding for K12 schools. ESEA has changed many names since its inception and each transformation inherits the same goal: encourage an incentive program for outstanding performance. The ESEA Act was reauthorized as No Child Left Behind in 2001.
No Child Left Behind was administered to improve educational opportunities for low income students and to deliver accountability measures for underperforming districts. Mandatory each year under this act, students are tested in math and reading in grades 3-8 and once during grades 10-12. Annually students are tested once in science in grades 3-5, 6-8 and 10-12. These test scores must be published publicly with mention to any special populations including disabilities, ethnicity and family household income.
I argue two negative outcomes of this education policy. My disagreement with NCLB is with how a school’s performance is rated and the loss of funding in places it matters most.
Many parents, educators and students themselves believe teaching to the test has profound negative impacts on pedagogy and comprehension of material. I personally believe standardized tests teach memorization skills and are a poor indicator of a student’s aptitude with apparent disregard to creativity and out-of-the-box problem solving.
It is a fact, however, that states maintain funding (via NCLB waivers) if they require 95% of students to participate in standardized testing. What a great example of money dictating curriculum. Such debate has spewed parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.
Lost school funding
Over the last few years, New Hampshire has offered after-school tutoring at no cost to families who qualified for subsidies through the state’s funding campaign. The program was cut this year and questions, does our state motto Live free or Die pertain to education as well?
This all may seem out of date since Obama’s Race to the Top program has replaced NCLB. But there are plenty of states with substantial funding cuts due to poorly policed regulations. After Obama’s recent Presidential Address, I question what is being done to change our problems at home.
Side note: By 2014 all students must be proficient in grade level math and reading content areas. And parents: this is why we have a surge of consumerism in the classroom. Companies are racing to develop standard-aligned solutions; educational publishers, mobile app developers, big data big wigs.