Thursday, March 04, 2010

Flip-Flop on 'No Child Left Behind'

Former 'No Child Left Behind' Advocate Turns Critic
In 2005, former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch wrote, 'We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation.'

Four years later, Ravitch has changed her mind.

'I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies,' Ravitch says. 'But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education.'
So what's the problem?

Emphasis On Test Scores Led To Cheating, Dishonesty

"The basic strategy is measuring and punishing," Ravitch says of No Child Left Behind. "And it turns out as a result of putting so much emphasis on the test scores, there's a lot of cheating going on, there's a lot of gaming the system. Instead of raising standards it's actually lowered standards because many states have 'dumbed down' their tests or changed the scoring of their tests to say that more kids are passing than actually are."

Some states contend that 80 to 90 percent of their children are proficient readers and have math proficiency as well, Ravitch notes. But in the same states, only 25 to 30 of the children test at a proficient level on national tests such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

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