Target Mandatory Testing in Education Law||
Opposition to mandatory testing could derail President Bush's controversial
5-year-old No Child Left Behind education reform program.
The amount of testing in public schools and whether it is replacing creative
classes is being debated in the nation's capital as a growing number of school
administrators and parents pressure lawmakers to come up with alternatives to
President Bush's education policy.
"Republicans and Democrats agree
that burdensome regulations
are preventing our schools and students from achieving their best," Republican
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina said last week.
DeMint and Republican
Senator John Cornyn of Texas introduced the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success
Act (A-PLUS), which would allow states to opt out of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives.
President Bush signed NCLB into law in 2002, but it is set to expire this year.
The law, an extension
of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, requires schools receiving
public money to set and achieve Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets in reading
and math. AYP must be raised each year to reach an overall goal of 100 percent
student proficiency by the end of the 2014 school year.
also seeks to close the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students
and ensure a highly qualified teacher for every core academic subject.
years, President Bush has championed NCLB's results.
"The No Child
Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize
this good law," he said in his 2007 State of the Union.
teachers' and administrators' groups, however, oppose NCLB and have criticized
its reliance on standardized tests to determine AYP.
"If I were a student, I would be spending most of my year doing test preparation
and thinking that the whole purpose of school was to pass a test rather than receiving
a well-rounded education," said Michael Shaw, a professor at St. Thomas Aquinas
College and a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's commission
would be angry that other subjects were being diminished because of this focus
Lisa Guisbond, policy analyst for the National Center for
Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), a group advocating alternatives to standardized
testing, said testing pushes some good teachers out of the classroom.
"There's tremendous dissatisfaction amongst experienced teachers with this
sort of straight jacketing," Guisbond said. "Teaching to a test, that's
not why they went into education."
schools and teachers accountable|
Connie Garafalo, principal of Reading Central Community Elementary, a NCLB Blue
Ribbon school in 2005 for lowering low-income students' achievement gap, said
that while the days of doing "cute little units" have passed, teachers
maintain the ability to inject their own styles into their courses.
"The good teachers will take the standards and apply creative teaching strategies,"
"If we don't have these kinds of measures, then how do we
know that our kids are achieving and meeting the standards?"
vs. the federal government|
Betty Sternberg, superintendent of schools in Greenwich, Conn., believes the
real problem with NCLB is that states don't like the federal government telling
them what to do.
the law, states with schools who fail to meet the targets must offer students
after school tutoring and the opportunity to transfer to a different school. If
a school fails for four consecutive years, it must replace staff, restructure
the curriculum and extend the school day/year.
"If kids are failing,
don't be specific about sanctions," Sternberg said. "When you do it
from on high, so far away from the classroom and the school, you really aren't
Sternberg was the Connecticut commissioner of education
in 2005 when the state unsuccessfully sued NCLB for failing to provide the dollars
needed to enact its testing requirements.
President Bush's budget request for Fiscal Year 2008 includes a $993 million
boost for NCLB.
our perspective that we have put forth the funds to make this work for kids,"
said Kerri Briggs, acting assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department
But according to Democratic Representative Dennis Moore of Kansas,
a member of the House Committees on the Budget and Financial Services,
total NCLB funding is $55 billion short of the levels outlined
in the 2002 authorization.
supports a House bill that calls for "a moratorium on compliance with Adequate
Yearly Progress requirements that are not fully funded."
Both the House
and the Senate are expected to vote on the proposed laws before the end of April.
Josh Miller, NewsHour Extra
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