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September 8th, 2008
Testing: No Child Left Behind
Segment Four from Full Episode
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  • American students are among the most tested in the world.
  • State spending on standardized tests has almost tripled in the last six years to over a billion dollars.
  • China, Singapore, and Finland and most European countries have national standards. The U.S. doesn’t.



  • Lisa Fox

    I come from a family of teachers. Any mention of “No Child Left Behind” is like nails on the chalkboard.

  • Patricia

    I totally agree to Lisa Fox’s statement above, the no child left mehind act is not working for anyone. But, I also think that teacher’s are not doing their jobs. What other job lets you get away with not performing to your fullest and do wrong to your clients (in this case the kids & families) and still get paid. Where? Seeing first hand how teachers are burnt out, tired, and not doing the job we tax payers for. Those teachers desperately NEED to retire and/or change careers before another child gets left behind again and again.

  • Julie

    I think NCLB is a great concept but the planning for implementation and consequences was greatly lacking. I also don’t think it’s possible for legislative leaders to come up with something that works if they have no experience working IN a school. I work at an “at-risk” junior high in Salt Lake City. We have 83% of our students on free or reduced lunch. We are a majority hispanic school (51% hispanic, 33% white, 16% native, asian, etc.). Many of these kids come to us in 7th grade at a 3rd or 4th grade reading level. Our teachers bust their butts trying to teach our kids the core concepts (walkaways) they need to know to pass CRT’s (criterion referenced test) each year. We are below the national ’standard’ but are able to barely make AYP (annual yearly progress) each year. Under current NCLB rules if we don’t make AYP our school loses funding. Many of our students have parents who don’t speak English, dropped out of school, or work 2 and 3 jobs to support their kids. These parents/guardians don’t possess the ability to help their students with schoolwork. I don’t understand how it can ever be helpful to take away funding from the only source of support these students have. There has got to be a better way to measure the success of a school. Students are more than just a test score.

  • Krista

    How do you define a ‘great’ or ‘effective’ teacher? Is it one whose students behave? One whose students receive good test scores on standardized tests? My students may never pass these tests because they are in special education classes. So am I a bad teacher? I certainly didn’t meet the ‘highly qualified’ defintion of NCLB and was required to take math classes to meet those standards. I believe that there is a bigger picture here than we are looking at presently. My hope is that this video will create a larger discussion and open some minds about issues that were not considered when NCLB was first drafted. What about all the kids who are not the norm?

  • Troy O

    I think that nationalized testing is a very good idea, however, the current “standard” we have in place (NCLB) is too ambiguous and allows each state to put their own test into practice. This allows some states to avoid being held accountable for the lack of education within the areas that might need help most. I’m currently a student, and think that “No Child Left Behind” ought to be called “No Child Gets Ahead” as the teachers spend too much time teaching to the test, and restrict free thinking and individual process because of the systematic pressure put on them by this highly flawed system.

  • Nora

    I’d love to hear more about pros and cons related to national standards and tests vs. state. I vaguely remember key points when the issue first arose…then I saw the state standards and testing process unfold (including borrowing standards from other states verbatim :-) ) for states, publishers and others. I find myself on the other end of all of that thinking national standards and testing would be better.

  • Shannon R.

    I think that NCLB has some real strengths to it, and I think that it would be a shame to throw it all away and start over. I absolutely agree that there are things that need to change, but I think that people have such a bad taste in their mouths about NCLB that they shut off whenever anyone suggests that it might have some positive aspects to it without considering what some changes in the program might do to save time and money. I’m interested to see what our presidential candidates have to say about their plans for education. I don’t know that there’s a perfect answer out there, but an open mind and being ready to do things differently is going to get us closer.

  • Geraffi

    I know that I am posting this way after the release date, but I feel obligated to respond to Patricia’s comment:

    “teacher’s are not doing their jobs. What other job lets you get away with not performing to your fullest and do wrong to your clients (in this case the kids & families) and still get paid.”

    Patricia, name one other job that has absolutely no quality control over the raw resource they receive. In education, we must educate ALL American children. We cannot refuse any of these raw resources no matter how poor, or sick, or tired, or hungry. No mater what language they speak as their “first language”; no matter what disability they might have, be it a learning disability, autism, mental retardation, or emotional disturbance; no matter what their family life is like, whether they live with both parents, or only one, or are fostered…this list can go on and on.

    I am tired of hearing that teachers are not doing their jobs. Teachers are more qualified than ever, and are working harder than ever. As mentioned in this documentary, the failing education system is a social problem, not a “teaching” problem. I won’t stand by and blindly defend all teachers, but the American people need to wake up and realize that we, as a nation, have created this problem.

  • Nancy Skocik

    Last night– as I was making up a test (ironically)– my husband turned on the PBS show. I am teaching a class called Assessment in Math for secondary ed majors and wonder if I could purchase the DVD. Many of these future teachers are in the dark as to what is expected of them. I am sure this would be very helpful for them.

    Nancy Skocik

  • Meagan Cluff

    As a member of a family that comes from a long line of teachers, I believe No Child Left Behind has somewhat hindered children’s desire to participate in the process of learning. As stated in the video this law requires all the children to be proficient in Reading and Math. While this is a good goal the overall affect it has had on both kids and teachers hasn’t been all that great. Teachers feel the need to have to teach to the test and become stressed and have anxiety with the idea that if their students don’t do well their job is on the line. Children also have more stress that is heaped upon them. Not only do they need to do well, but if they don’t they will be held back or perhaps not graduate. While I think that testing can help teachers asses what they need to teach better and gives the kids the opportunity to show what they have learned ultimately I believe that there are better ways to monitor progress. Tests should not determine whether a teacher gets a bonus or not or if a student graduates. Tests are good check points not future predictors.

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