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Bobby Moore


RQ: Was the practice of “teaching to the test” a problem in education before the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and to what extent did the law make it more prevalent?

The drive to make teachers more accountable for their students is a trend spreading across the nation like wildfire. While there are positives to accountability there are also many negative aspects to go alongside. I believe that teachers should be accountable, but to what degree? How much impact, for example, is it fair to expect a teacher to have on a student who comes from a broken home? What do we expect from a teacher who takes on a student who received a poor education prior to entering that teacher’s class? Are we expecting a teacher to produce the same test scores from students in a lesser class as they do from students in an honors class? President Bush created the No Child Left Behind act in 2001 immediately after taking office.  NCLB supports standards based educational reform based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills. States must give these assessments to all students at select grade levels in order to receive federal school funding. Over the past decade we have seen the entire idea of education change due to the No Child Left Behind program. Test scores are one way to evaluate students, teachers, and schools, but cannot be the only way. It is important to remember that tests are more than just numbers and scores. One of the biggest problems with teaching to the test is the pressure placed on teachers. Their superiors on the school board apply pressure, but the media places the most pressure upon them. Test scores are rising, but for the absolute wrong reason. The question I wish to explore is whether or not teaching to the test has been a problem in education before the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and to what extent the law made it more prevalent.

The primary source I have used so far has been the New York Times online database. I spoke with a librarian and he directed me to a few specific articles. The first of which was called Standardized Test Scores: Voodoo Statistics? by Edward B. Fisk. Its focus is on a town called Lake Wobegon where Chester E. Finn Jr., the assistant United States Secretary of Education was in charge of research. What Mr. Finn found was entitled the “Lake Wobegon effect”. Finn described the “Lake Wobegon effect” as a correlation between grades as well as scores. He noticed a trend of teenagers becoming depressed as well as having low self-esteem depending on their recent grades. He formed a non-profit organization called Friends for Education Inc in hopes of changing the obsession with test based teaching.

In their search for answers they noticed the major steps that teachers take in order to keep up with NCLB. First, definitions of average are no longer what they used to be. Major tests are based on norms that have been changed multiple times throughout the years. Schools have gotten much better at teaching to the test in order take the below average testers into the above average category. The article states, “Testers say that schools have gotten better and the average has been rising. Consequently, many students who might otherwise now be scored “below average” are still “above average” compared with the early 1980’s sample groups. “ (1).

For the next step in the process I plan on comparing the relevance of teach to the test in a few online databases. I am going to break the search down by comparing the topics relevance before 2001 when NCLB was started, and after 2001 in the new test based era. The problem is not the fact that NCLB has caused testing to be taken so seriously the problem is that after its implementation in 2001 schools will do anything to achieve their goal. NCLB has skyrocketed accountability and it is apparent through the findings of the Friends for Education that the prevalence due to it is not something to be overlooked.

Works Cited

1. Hamilton, R. A. (1986, Jan 12). Schools analyzing state test scores. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. CN22-CN22. http://search.proquest.com/docview/110916131?accountid=14405

2. HARTOCOLLIS, A. (2000, Nov 21). Study links rises in school financing and test scores. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B4-B4. http://search.proquest.com/docview/91626986?accountid=14405
3. By, E. B. (1988, Feb 17). Standardized test scores: Voodoo statistics? New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. B9. http://search.proquest.com/docview/110596120?accountid=14405

3 thoughts on “Draft”

  1. I think what you have so far is good. I think your information on No Child Left Behind is easy to understand for people who do not know very much about the act. I think what you plan on doing with the rest of your paper is good and I like the sources that you are using. I think you have an interesting research question that is especially relevant to today. I’m just curious about where you are getting information about before NCLB was enacted and what you have found so far about it. You’ve done a really great job so far making it clear what the problems are with NCLB!

  2. I agree with Bright, your research question in clear and interesting and it seems like you’re on the right track with your sources. As Brigit said, I am also interested to see where you will find your research about teaching before NCLB but I’m sure the librarians will be a big help if you have trouble. From what we’ve learned in different classes and from what I’ve observed in my community placement classes, NCLB has had a huge impact on students, but I’m glad to see that you’re also writing about the impact it has had on the teachers. You should take a look at what Brigit is writing about how NCLB has even impacted kindergarten classes and students. I’m excited to see what you find through your research!
    -Caroline H.

  3. Comparing NCLB to “teaching to the test” is an interesting topic that will probably take some more research to find a direct correlation between the two. Besides that what you have so far seems to establish an interesting connection between the two. I would look at recent test scores, where you could see the direct results NCLB affecting “teaching to the test”. I like the ideas that you’ve presented thus far, and I think you could make a very solid paper from the ideas you have. You seem to be pretty far along in your research, and I think you have most of it done in order to finish up the project.

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