Friday, June 27, 2008

Is NCLB working?

The Courier Times reported that standardized test scores are on the rise throughout the United States. There is some question as to whether or not this is a result of No Child Left Behind, but the results are encouraging regardless of their root causes.

In a follow up editorial, the Courier Times applauded the efforts of school districts that mandate PSSA proficiency for would-be graduates, and they encouraged Neshaminy to adopt this same policy.

Are our children really learning more, or are they just becoming better test-takers? Will mandating PSSA proficiency further improve test scores? What do you think?


TFR1984 said...

The only credit I'll give to NCLB is that it brought attention to the fact that standardized test scores needed to improve, but I will not say that NCLB is a good thing. The credit goes to the teachers, administrations, school boards and students of each community.

Anonymous said...

I agree with tfr1984. The credit goes to the teachers. But a bigger concern is that we are teaching to the test. There is no room for creative thinking in the classroom. If the topic is not on the test, we don't cover it. We are creating a generation that can take a test but not think outside the box. (And if you don't know where this saying comes from ask an English teacher, but if it's not on the test they may not have the time to answer.)

meet the parents said...

I have written a prior post about how I think that the PSSA scores are directly linked to the parents. But contrary to this this thinking, there have been numerous posts, editorials in the Courier and public comment at board meetings claiming that the low test scores are linked to teachers.
Some have used that argument calling for lower teacher salaries. Now that the test scores are up, I haven't seen anything calling for higher teacher salaries.

Anonymous said...

We're already paying top dollar for our teachers so we should be getting better results. PSSA scores are linked to both parents and teachers. If teachers were meaningless to test scores, then fire all the top tier teachers and just bring in a bunch of newbies at much less cost.

KClarinet said...

Regarding NCLB, improved PSSA scores and improved learning:

1. NCLB doesn't so far as I know require improvement in test scores - it only requires an increase each year (with an eventual goal of 100%) in the number of students who score at the level of "proficient" (Adequate Yearly Progress). Once a student attains "proficiency" on the PSSA battery, NCLB doesn't know or care whether his/her score continues to rise, nor is it concerned with improvement among those who are already proficient or higher.

2. Requiring PSSA proficiency for graduation may allow the district to abandon the cheer-leading, prize-awarding whoopla that now passes for "motivation" for students to take the tests seriously, but the system will need to accept the consequence that it will deny certain students a diploma who are simply not capable of doing what the tests require, regardless of their efforts or those of their teachers on their behalf.

3. Whether or not better test scores indicate better learning or simply better test-taking skills along with very narrow content-specific memorization is a question that really will never be answered convincingly either way. If you only test specific content knowledge, you can't know what if any other learning has taken place. You can't possibly test every bit or even area of knowledge in which educators want students to achieve. The danger at present is that what *is* being tested can too easily be allowed to crowd out what *isn't*, with unpredictable future consequences.