October 18, 2017

The failure of No Child Left Behind

Diane Ravitch - he Washington Post editorial board chastised Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam for admitting that the NCLB reforms have failed, and Virginia needs to find a new paradigm for school improvement.

...The Post is dead wrong. A new book by the eminent Harvard testing expert Daniel Koretz says in no uncertain terms that NCLB test-based accountability was a failure that seriously damaged American education. The high-stakes testing mandated by NCLB and now the Every Student Succeeds Act, produced, in Professor Koretz’s words, score inflation, cheating, and teaching to the tests. Any “gains” are an illusion, because they represent test prep, not learning.

Lt. Gov. Northam is right. The Washington Post is seriously out of step on education. It supported Michelle Rhee’s punitive, test-focused regime and never admitted its error, long after John Merrow revealed the D.C. cheating scandal and long after Rhee slipped quietly into oblivion.

What’s the ideal accountability system? Northam admitted to the editorial board that he doesn’t know. Professor Koretz admitted he doesn’t know either. He throws out some ideas drawn from Finland, the Netherlands, and Singapore. There may be others as well, but frankly no one knows. For sure, the Washington Post editorial board doesn’t know, and the little it knows is wrong.

What doesn’t work is one-size-fits-all standards like Common Core. What doesn’t work is promising rewards or threatening punishment to teachers and principals, tied to test scores. Yet that is what the Washington Post advocates.


Anonymous said...

Dear Virginia: Alfie Kohn. You're welcome.

Anonymous said...

As many very, very good psychologists, including Bruner, Bloom, and Scriven have stated, the best test of learning--the only one that works for any learning of a higher order than rote memorisation--is a mix of interview of the learner by an expert who was not involved in the teaching, and demonstration by the learner of their practical skill if appropriate.