One of the biggest issues I see with the No Child Left Behind policy is the fact that the current system lacks an efficient way for the quality of a states education to be measured to make sure that a state is educating the students to the best of their ability. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s post, NCLB is implemented by the federal government but how the program is actually carried out in the school system all depends on the state and their regulations. The federal government’s only requirements of a state is to make a standards based testing system to measure how the students in the particular state are being educated. However, since the federal government does not provide a national test and leaves it up to the state to determine how the testing will be done, each state has a different version of the test. This means that some states may have an easier test than another state which does not truly reflect the value of the education in that state. A state with an easier test will naturally have high scores reported than the state with hard test that actually challenges their students. But based solely on test scores and not the education given to the students, the state with the easier test and higher scores will seemingly have a better education system. So where does the federal government step in to make sure that these tests are given fairly and are doing the job of making a better education system?
Fortunately the federal government did see that comparability was going to be an issue when NCLB was being formed so Congress created a national standard called National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Unfortunately, however, the NAEP is good in theory but the actual implementation of the standards is tricky.
In an interview featuring The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, Nicholas Lemann, he discusses this issue and how the NAEP is failing at creating a true national standard. He says that although the NAEP creates a national standard it doesn’t actually work because there are no consequences for a state it they are “dumbing down” their standards test. Lemann also said due to the lack of punishment factor on the states there is just the embarrassment factor of being a state with low education standards. The NAEP does not do enough to deter easy testing so a state can basically get away with making their test easy and still look good in the federal government’s eyes because they are consistently turning out good test scores. I personally think that system is completely messed up and it is not doing the job that it was designed to do. The tests are supposed to make our education system better but honestly they aren’t changing anything!!!