First off, I’d like to admit that while I’m on my way to becoming an educator I don’t know a lot about what is going on politically in the education world (I have a deep mistrust of all things political). However, one thing that I’ve always had a strong opinion about is Bush’s NCLB act. I mention this because it composed quite a chunk of Duncan’s speech. He talked a lot about how NCLB has failed the education system, causing “too many states lowered standards in order to meet the goal of getting every single child to proficiency by 2014″. Personally, I agree with what he said.
My initial dislike of the NCLB act started towards the end of my high school career. I was deeply involved in my school’s orchestra programs for seven years and was disheartened by the dwindling budget that the arts programs had. It seemed to me like there was so much emphasis on testing well in what were deemed the core subjects (math, reading, writing, etc.) that the school was slowly pushing other programs out. The result consisted of angry students, scared teachers, and a whole lot of fruitless fundraising.
Apart from the danger it poses to art programs (I’ll step off my soapbox for now) I also didn’t like the emphasis that it placed on testing. Testing works well for a select number of students (myself included) who are good test takers. However, it does not accurately measure the abilities of students who are not good test takers, non-English speaking, or simply don’t feel any sort of reason to do well on these tests (like my brother). What I do not like is how these students who may not perform well on tests are pigeon-holed into categories like “below proficient”, which is just a fancy term for “stupid”. Just because a students does not test well does not mean that they are stupid.
So when Duncan speaks about the failures of NCLB I’m inclined to agree with him. However, I’m curious to see what sort of revisions the Obama Administration makes to this. I think the idea of peer-reviewing teachers is a step in the right direction (as opposed to having it strictly based on test scores) but I am still skeptical on how much positive change their revisions will make. Maybe I’m not fully understanding things or maybe I’m just slightly leery towards politicians but I sincerely hope that NCLB is changed.
Until next time,