No Child Left Behind was the reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act and was supposed to ensure that all children had equal opportunities to excel in school.
In the process of making sure that all children have access to a quality education, an emphasis on testing was instituted, which seemingly changed the focus of educating our youth to focusing on a test.
According to the 2013 PDK/Gallup Poll of Public Attitudes Toward Public Education, 77 percent of Americans believe increased testing has either hurt or made no difference in improving schools.
On Thursday, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association, appeared on NewsOne Now with guest host Mo Ivory to discuss the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind and the impact that standardized tests are having in America’s classrooms.
Garcia minced no words when talking about how the emphasis on “toxic testing” has adversely impacted education, calling No Child Left Behind “No Child Left Untested.”
She explained that when the program was initiated in 2002, No Child Left Behind changed how children across the country were compared and assessed.
“But people who didn’t really know what they were talking about, who never actually stood in front of 39 kids the way I have, they said ‘And I guess we’ll just all make it on a standardized test.’”
Garcia added that children are being assessed through “one test, one time a year.” Once the scores are tallied, the children are ranked, labeled, and by way of this test, children in third grade are told if they can go to fourth grade and if a senior gets to graduate from high school.
“What we tried to say was that standardized tests give us some information, but it’s very, very limited. Some kids will never feel comfortable taking a standardized test. It’s why as teachers, as educators, we make sure that there were lots of ways for a kid to show us that they got it,” she said.
“It was never one test, given once a year that would determine whether a child was considered a failure and had to be retained or not graduate, or whether or not they were ready to move forward.”
Ivory highlighted that this practice is what led to the Atlanta teacher cheating scandal, because if students don’t meet the “cut mark” and are considered failures, those educating would be considered failures, putting their jobs and potential bonuses in danger.
What is even more shocking about the impact of the use of standardized tests revolving around “cut scores” is that if the numbers are not met, schools lose funding for art, recesses, and sports.
Garcia said, “Those kind of extracurricular electives were how they [students] got scholarships” to attend higher educational institutions. She also explained that in more affluent school districts, the standardized tests are not so heavily relied upon and are looked at more of as “a kind of annoyance.”
“But for our kids in our most vulnerable situations, they have obsessed over these tests so that they have narrowed what it means to teach and what it means to learn.”
Watch NewsOne Now guest host Mo Ivory and Garcia discuss how No Child Left Behind and standardized testing has adversely impacted education, especially in underserved communities.
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