Every Child Achieves Still Leaves Children Behind

I was initially excited to hear about a rewrite on the infamous No Child Left Behind Act since it was not only outdated, but justified high stakes testing and unrealistic standards by using financial aid as a hostage.

The majority of news articles I came across mostly discussed things like how it was a bipartisan agreement to propose the rewrite, that people on both sides of the congressional aisle are divided on how it should be enforced, how it was a republican based rewrite and democrats didn’t get enough input, how it’s taking multiple sessions and debates on whether the amendments are fair, and how much the federal government should be involved in education.

If I didn’t know beforehand that I was reading about an education law, I would have thought that I was looking up information on how the federal government was attempting to run the country as a whole. Every time I clicked on a new page I was met with political debates on everything from poverty to presidential accountability. But very little was mentioned on educators and those actually in the education field, and how they were involved in the process; because they basically aren’t.

Education has become just another political platform for people in Washington to use to their advantage (or to other’s disadvantage).

I’d like to believe that the congressional debates on education reform stem from a desire to really want to bolster American education, but I know that regardless of the issue at hand, if congress is involved there is no greater good that will benefit from the results. These days it seems like every issue brought up in Washington is just fodder for politicians to use in their speeches on how they want to “improve America,” but not take any realistic or progressive actions toward.

We’ve mentioned countless times how big businesses are really the ones running the show, and this is no different; everything still comes down to who profits the most.

You would think that when it comes to education standards, those directly involved in the field should have the most say in how things are run, but you don’t see teachers across the country giving their input to policy makers who, in turn, make changes based on those assessments. It’s standardized evaluations that are given the most weight – a faceless, impersonal statistic is what governs action.

So now we will have the Every Child Achieves Act (summary available here) which promises to place less emphasis on evaluations from standardized test results, and allow states to evaluate teachers as they see fit. But the new law still mandates testing every year, which to me says that they aren’t completely abandoning using test results as a way to evaluate. Even if the federal government won’t be as involved in what happens based on test scores, the fact is that it will still be a test-driven system which, once again, only guarantees profits for those involved in test making. More money going to places it isn’t needed.

Plus, as mentioned in an article we pushed with the National Education Association president, the new law wouldn’t account for the differences and challenges faced in poorer schools. If the students in those districts don’t get the same opportunities as those in richer districts, then how is anyone supposed to accurately assess what those students are learning? You can’t judge how well a student understands calculus if they don’t have the funding for a TI-89 calculator to help them. You can’t say that students in one district are better at understanding Shakespeare than another because they don’t have to share one book with the entire class.

Whatever results may come from yearly testing won’t matter if the subject matter isn’t taught effectively. And if proper funding still won’t be given to schools who really need it, than what is the point of the new revisions anyway? Am I missing something here?

What are your thoughts on the new Every Child Achieves Act? Are we getting closer or farther away from real, effective, progressive education reform?

Tracey Woodard
Tracey Woodard
tracey.woodard@franklinfound.org

<p>Our Senior contributor Tracey Woodard graduated in 2010 from Bucknell University with a BA in English – Creative Writing and Theater. An advid believer in the importance of public school education, she uses a mix of personal and learned experiences to express her thoughts on today’s most pressing education issues. She currently resides just outside of Philadelphia, PA.</p>

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