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I like Obama's proposal to standardize No Child Left Behind

Original post made by Perspective, Midtown, on Mar 10, 2009

I just heard ABC news "top of the hour" report: Supposedly Obama is proposing "tough national testing standards" for schools to qualify for NCLB funds.

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Comments (3)

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

He seems to be heading in this direction. He also is talking about merit pay for teachers.

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If he follows through, then I say "bravo" for Obama!

Now if he would only get behind vouchers....

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Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Mar 10, 2009 at 11:49 pm

National standards for what? Do we not know which schools and which students are struggling the most? Only when you adopt the wacky NCLB definitions of quality do you need to worry about that issue, and it cuts the opposite way; schools that are making great progress in most areas will be labeled as failing schools because they have to aim at a statistically impossible target.

We have national standards already, established by the national professional organizations that deal with different educational subjects and grade levels. Why should we have political appointees and policywonks and test publishers getting paid to ignore what already exists? Those standards are just fine, but they weren't produced by the government. What about all the time and energy invested to get schools working on the existing standards? So follow the money. Who benefits? Who gets shafted?

And the process of constructing national standards will take forever and turn into a political football. To what end? Tell me seriously what aspect of teaching and learning is really going to change significantly in the next ten years if we take this on. The standards we have do differ, but has anyone actually studied how much they differ? Will we expend all this energy to get a few states to line up a few items a bit more carefully and then spend millions upon millions to adjust to the new national standards? And if they're so slow, will they turn out to be dated before they're done? I can just imagine a national tech. standard they finally agreed on: "All students will learn how to save computer files to diskettes and transfer files from those diskettes."

On the other fronts, merit pay is fine if it doesn't depend on test scores. Lots of recent studies and blog comments on that if you follow education - the top 25% of teachers, if you base that on test scores, cannot be predicted to stay that good over four years. The bottoms move up the tops move down - is it really teacher quality driving those changes, or factors beyond the teachers' control? There are other valid ways to determine "merit" and in lots of places teachers are into this idea when they have a say in it.

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 11, 2009 at 2:11 am


An existing example of a national standard is the SAT. Why not just give the SAT to every child, and demand a minimum score to be awarded a high school diploma?

Other countries have national standards, given at various grade levels. It is not the rocket science that you describe. There are many grade level tests already availible...just pick one. No need to reinvent the wheel.

If a student cannot pass out of a given grade, that student should repeat that grade.

In a certain sense, all children should be left behind...otherwise no child can get ahead. National level testing will tell us how far behind they are. This would be especially helpful if the national level test is as difficult as the best international level tests.
For example, it might show us how our educational methods fare compared to France or Russia or China or Japan. We could then adjust our educational methods, in order to catch up.

We should not be taking advice from the teachers' unions. Nor should we be allowing their defeatist attitudes to influence our decisions.

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