No Child Left Behind Hurts More Than Helps
Five years into the federal No Child Left Behind law, NCLB is viewed less and less favorably, according to results of the 39th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll.
The PDK/Gallup poll found that as knowledge of NCLB has grown since it became law in 2002, the public view of NCLB and the standardized testing it requires is declining.
Concerning the overall impact of NCLB on public schools in their community, 41 percent said NCLB was making "no difference" in the performance of local public schools while 27 percent said it was "hurting" the performance of local public schools Only 26 percent said NCLB was "helping".
Asked to determine which was a better way to measure a school's performance, the percentage of students passing state mandated tests at the end of the school year or measuring the improvement students made during the year, 82 percent of respondents said measuring improvement shown by students during the year is the best way to measure school performance leading PDK/Gallup to conclude NCLB is focused on the wrong standard of school success.
Last year, for the first time, all city public schools underwent a quality review designed to measure how well they are helping to raise student achievement. One month into the 2007-08 school year, that review has begun again.
"Every organization can benefit significantly from a second pair of eyes, and that's exactly what quality reviews give our schools," New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said in an October 1 Department of Education (DOE) press release.
A cadre of experienced educators comprises the quality review teams and will visit schools to meet with principals, teachers, students and parents. The process includes observations of classroom teaching, use of data, planning, programs, design and implementation.
The rating scale has been expanded this year to include five possible scores for schools- Outstanding, Well Developed, Proficient, Underdeveloped With Proficient Features and Underdeveloped. With only three possible scores for schools last year, 33.4 percent were rated Well Developed, 57.5 percent were rated Proficient and 9.1 percent were rated Underdeveloped.
"No Child Left Behind" mandates state testing in reading and math every year for grades three through eight, with a goal of "proficiency" for all students in reading and math by 2014. However, the law leaves defining proficiency and administering their own tests to determine it up to individual states.
Asked if increased testing has helped, hurt, or made no difference in the performance of local public schools, PDK/Gallup found 26 percent of respondents said increased testing helped, 28 percent said it hurt, and 42 percent said it made no difference.
Results of reading and math tests administered nationally to 700,000 fourth and eighth grade students in all 50 states showed only small gains.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, given by the U.S. Department of Education, released scores in September showing 29 percent of fourth graders and 32 percent of eighth graders at or above proficiency in reading. That is compared to 29 percent of fourth graders and 30 percent of eighth graders at or above proficiency in 2005, the last time the test was given.
In math, 39 percent of fourth graders and 31 percent of eighth graders scored at or above proficiency. This compared to 35 percent of fourth graders and 28 percent of eighth graders at or above proficiency in 2005.
In addition to undertaking a second round of quality review reports, the DOE will soon release its first individual school report cards next month with grades of A to F. The grades are based on standardized test results, attendance and student improvement.
Results of last year's quality reviews, as well as other relevant statistics for schools, are posted on the DOE web site nyc.gov/education. Parents in need of a hard copy or a translated copy should contract their school parent coordinator.