Reforming NCLB Requires Flexibility and Accountability

Fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is four years overdue. In March of 2010, the Administration unveiled its Blueprint for Reform. Since then we’ve worked on a bipartisan basis to craft a comprehensive reform bill that would help give our children the world-class education they need and deserve.  Today marks an important step forward.

Senator Tom Harkin and Senator Mike Enzi — Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — introduced a bipartisan bill to officially overhaul NCLB.  I deeply appreciate the efforts of Senators Harkin and Enzi to build in more flexibility for states and districts, and focus on the goal of building a world-class education system that prepares all students for college and careers.   Increased flexibility at the state and local level is consistent with the administration’s policy on waivers and our Blueprint for Reform.

However, it is equally important that we maintain a strong commitment to accountability for the success of all students, and I am concerned that the Senate bill does not go far enough.  Parents, teachers, and state leaders across the country understand that in order to prepare all of our young people to compete in the global economy, we must hold ourselves and each other accountable at every level of the education system– from the classroom to the school district, from the states to the federal government.  In addition, I am concerned the Senate bill lacks a comprehensive evaluation and support system to guide teachers and principals in continuing to improve their practice.

America cannot retreat from reform.  We must ensure that every classroom in every school is a place of high expectations and high performance.  The fact that we have a bipartisan bill in the Senate is an important and positive development, but it’s only a beginning.  I look forward to working with Congress in the weeks and months ahead to advance this bipartisan effort, address these and other concerns and build a world-class education system that strengthens America’s economy and secures America’s future.

Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education


  1. If we are going to provide all students with a world class primary and secondary education that should prepare them for tertiary education. The sad truth is that unfortunately it is the diversity that makes the US a great country, also, is preventing us from providing all students with equality and equal education in our schools. It is still about those who have the social, economic and political capital who get ahead and those who don’t have anything because they are lacking in any of these areas do not receive an education that truly moves this country forward and demonstrates to the world that we do whatever it takes to ensure that all are receiving what they deserve. The United States is still failing to provide minority students with a quality education. The truth is that until our policies change and the bipartisan bickering in Washington stops. we, as a nation will not succeed in providing a quality or world class education. It’s as if, there is a segment of the population that wants to ensure that certain groups do not get educated.

  2. A while back our small public school staff was visited by county employment specialists who told us that, nationally, we would never have an unemployment rate below 4%… that is roughly the percentage of work eligible adults who are dysfunctional, for various reasons, and would remain chronically unemployable. Now switch to the legions of at risk high school youths whose battle cry is: School sucks. I need a job.

    The impression one gets after listening to many at risk kids over the years is: Getting a job is far more motivating than getting an education, even in the most functional of schools. The point being… if there is no such thing as no potential employee left behind, how practical is it to assume that no child can left behind.
    And by the way, there is nothing childlike about some of the “children” who wish to be left behind.

    Additionally, I find this forum to be very devious… it leaves one to believe that input is actually appreciated.

  3. I’ve been teaching for 20 years and participated in teaching to reach students who live in some tough circumstances (poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect etc.) NCLB puts unbelievable pressure on the teachers, students are not likely to feel it as much, but they certainly notice when the creativity and structure change because of legislation.
    Where is the pressure on parental support? How will the government hold the families accountable for student performance? This question boggles the mind and yet the public education system always gets the blame and the budget cut to boot. With so many hoops to jump through and tests to pass, is it any wonder that a school could be called ‘failing’ or ‘low performing’ when the bar is so far away?

    I consider myself highly qualified; I am an NBCT in Literacy and work as an intervention specialist of sorts, in addition to having my regular homeroom of fifth graders. There are so many others out in the field of education who are striving to make a difference. Reforming or rewriting the NCLB act so that the parents are held to these high standards would help our economy by leaps and bounds!

    • I agree what people don’t understand is that students are given a measure of talent. All are not given the same measure. You might have a student that barely maintains mastery who studied all night just to get a 75 (C-). No wonder we have students dropping out of school every day. THe pressure is too much, they deal with their own personal matters from home and then deal with matters from school. We need NO PARENT LEFT BEHIND. If parents are not educated then how do you expect schools to thrive in that type of environment. PLEASE COME TEACH IN A SCHOOL SETTING WITH NO SUPPORTS.

      • I am a single parent who is also fully involved in the education of my four children. I have a child with severe reading, comprehension and processing concerns. She is now 13. She has had an IEP, and ILP, and a 504 plan. Our school is beginning the process of adopting the Expeditionary method of teaching and learning, and I was informed today that all IEP etc stuff will go out the window and that if my daughter can’t learn, that’s my problem. Of course it is my problem, but I fully believe the teachers should be held accountable for their wages. If they aren’t willing to teach, they should not be teaching. My children and I work on 5 hours of school work per day. They are not goofing off in class and go to school every day. As parents, we are expecting our children are being educated and for those of us fully involved, even at the cost of good jobs in order to be this responsible, where do our expectations get met. I send my children to school to learn. I expect them to learn. I also expect the staff of the schools to do their jobs. The No child Left Behind laws were put in place to hold teachers responsible. I dont see that happening, regardless of whether or not I spend time being responsible at home. I am paying for an education for my children, but I am the ones educating them. How much more involvement is needed? I find it simply amazing that we are bringing up children to be our future leaders, yet they know nothing about good quality education because the teachers aren’t being held accountable. Our district is even dismissing the No Child Left Behind laws by implementing this new method of teaching. Personally, I’m appaulled, that for those of us involved parents, accountable for our students, students with extra needs required, that we still get shoved aside and made to feel unimportant. My 13 year old daughter is struggling so bad because her teachers could care less that she is already talking about dropping out, and has even mentioned suicide. So, what are we saying here? I believe that we are saying who really cares, as long as the teachers get paid, get to live by their stupid teachers unions, and our children are graduating knowing nothing more than the kindergartners of my era knew. That’s pathetic and says just how ridiculous this whole educational system is. No wonder the US is falling apart and in debt. We are raising morons.!

        • Judith, can you get your 13 year-old some help with these problems? No one wants your daughter thinking about suicide!!

    • I am a parent of a child with special needs and is supose to to in specaial education but the shool is setting her up to fail in all areas. My daughter is legaley 7 but mental she is only 3. That studys came from not only the school doing the test and mental heath and her doctors. So people say the pressure is all on the teachers but no on understands that the kids with mental problems dont understand an are pressured too as well as their parents. I just want to have the school do what they say they were going to do for her and not lie about it. Thy say she supose to be in special ed all day but they have her main stream with the other kids she is being left behind by the hole school sytem.

  4. In my country. Education has been developing. But quality of education itself is still bellow compared with others.

  5. I do not understand this at all. No Child Left Behind!!!? Ok so we should force our children that have special needs when it comes to testing especially, and give them the same test as children that are should I say average. I am told in an IEP meeting that this year my autistic son has to take a reading test this year. One thing I have to tell you all is that he is on a first grade reading level in the fifth grade and he is going to have to take a reading test on the fifth grade level. I am wanting to laugh at the teacher but instead I say so. If he is going to have to take a reading test this year in order to pass onto middle school. I need the school to provide us a reading tutor. I as a parent can only do so much I do not claim to have all the answers ok. But if my son has to take a reading test this year do you not think that the past three years he has been in the reading resource class could have had him up to grade level by now? Evidently not and the exceptional teacher says to me well do you know where to find him a tutor at? I am in shock why are they asking me if I know where to find a tutor at? No I do not I thought the schools should know or that the school should provide me some funding so that I can find him a reading tutor. I am at my whits end with all of it. No funds to get a tutor and I can not afford one for him. I work with him as much as I can after doing all of the work left over from his class work that was not completed and then the home work on top of that class work. I am a parent yes I should be accountable for my son and his education. But I should not have to do everything at home. I do all his class work and his home work with him after he gets in from school. He has no time to be a kid. Because we are to busy doing what is the schools responsability to get done with him daily. But they will not hire a one on one teacher to be sure that he has the same equal oppertunities as all the rest of the children in his class does. So if the No Child Left Behind Is ever going to be fixed. The government is going to have to start with enforcing the rules already in place. A child with an IEP has one because they need special help. Well please someone enforce it… What good are the laws if my son is going to be pushed throughthe cracks and be in sixth grade next year and still have a first grade reading level. All I am saying is Please don’t only write a bill be sure it can be funded for one and enforced for two.

  6. I’d like to examine where it all begins. Early childhood education and child care centers vary in quality: Not all caregivers are certified, have a degree or are knowledgeable in child development. Quality care and education is dependent on the staff; quality early childhood education programs embrace curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for the needs of each child.

    Keeping this in mind, children of all ages will strive in caring, nurturing, stimulating and engaging environments. As working parents, we also want to be included in the education of our children through communication. And we want to ensure that those caring and educating our infants, toddlers and preschoolers are qualified. This is not always a requirement.

    I think of the many parents who would not really know what to look for in an early childcare program. How do we assist families in the search for and identification of quality programing? If all infant and toddlers had access to quality care , perhaps our children would begin preschool and the primary grades on a leveled playing field. As a country we debate on the importance of education and education reform, but many providing infant and toddler care are under paid, under qualified and under valued. Most if not all, low- income families do not work for companies that offer quality infant or toddler care (which may be an option for middle class families.) These are the children that lag behind in so many academic areas later on. Government funded programs such as Head Start, later NCLB and RTTT try to remedy the inequities, but as long as these programs continue to focus on formal assessments and pre-scripted curricula, and not on individual students, families, and professional development and support for educators, we will continue to fail our children and our nation. An investment needs to be made to ensure equity and quality in early childhood education for every child.

  7. What I don’t get is why everyone is bashing the President so bad when the prior President was the one who signed it and put it into place but said nothing to him. He wasn’t the one who made the bill up. Give the guy a brake he can only do one thing at a time. No matter what he does, he’s going to be criticized. But you have to give him credit that he is at least trying to to fix the bill. Listen, I have wrote numbers of papers on this topic and from the beginning I thought this bill was a joke. He gave the rights to the governors of each state to set the standards at all times. So when this bill was signed, there was no “standard” everyone had to meet in order to even the learning field so that every child will be on the same learning level no matter what state. Right now, if you had to move to a different state and your child went to school they will be taught on a different level then the previous state. I think that the President is at least trying to correct the bill but look what he’s up against. Some people say its suppose to be about the children and nothing else, but when you have people who sit in the senate and only think of themselves and staying in the status that they are in it shows where their mind and heart is. I feel bad for our children because in the end they lose and they are not really getting the best equal education possible. Like a couple of you all ready stated yes I’ve learned more in college than anywhere else and that’s why I would love to see the education for our children changed. I don’t want them to feel how I felt coming to college and feeling like they missed something but in all truth they didn’t teach us that part. I’m hoping that the congress and senate will back him up on this and make our children’s future bright and full so they can conquer the world like their suppose to.

    • The power to set standards was not given to the governors of each state, it lies with the State Board of Education. Also, I don’t know where you’ve read about this, but no one is “bashing” President Obama for wanting to change NCLB. Quite the opposite of what you claim, most government officials want to blame President Bush, when in fact, they supported and voted in favor of the law in 2002. They claim to have changed positions, which is perfectly fine, they’re human. It’s not okay, however, to turn around and blame the President of the United States for the state of our education system. The President didn’t pass the law on his own, the Senate and the House approved it. The whole law is not all bad. There are seven titles and I feel like people are neglecting that fact and only focusing on the negatives. It provides teacher qualifications, and high ones for that matter, because do you really want your child being taught by someone who couldn’t pass a proficiency test in the subject they are teaching? There are titles on school and student safety and ESL learners. The important questions is, if NCLB is overhauled like everyone claims they want it to be, what will replace it? There can’t not be public education laws.


  9. Like Project Head Start, hasn’t worked from day one, will this be a follow-on for government failure?

  10. NCLB was meant to enhance education but instead has had a punitive affect on public schools. Individual differences, the teachable moment, and creative teaching are no longer valued. The emphasis is on testing. If a school is considered a failing school, millions of dollars may be given to improve the school, ut in reality more pressure is placed upon students and teachers to succeed on test scores, not on learning. One program for high school students in remedial English language courses is called “Language!” and requires the teacher to stay to a scripted lesson every day, no matter how disorganizd the lesson is or how disinterested the students are. This drives competent, experienced, and creative teachers away from the classroom and bores already challenged students.

    Public schools are supposed to have “highly qualified” teachers, but charter schools,with no such requirements, are recommended and teacher given more latitude in the way they teach. Very often an experienced teacher with a good
    track record is not valued,nor is their expertise on teaching sought by administrators
    or the Dept. of Education, both statewide and federal.

    Finland has a great record in education. They do not put the emphasis on testing but
    on learning and creative teaching. High tech companies say our students have had their creative instincts submerged by rote learning.

    NCLB and RTTT are failures and should be either discarded or drastically over-hauled.

    • Apparently these pieces of legislation have failed and should be discarded. I say this due to the fact that your passionately written ramblings are written with terrible grammar. The public school system is a joke. I learned more in my first semester at the University of Maryland than I did during my entire high school career.

      • 100% the truth I, like you Mike learned more in college prep courses than I ever had in Middle and High School. I wrote an english research paper in college on how NCLB and the comprehensive testing it calls for is a failure. Students in High Schools are more worried about prom and catching up on sleep they missed because of their partying.

        • You make statments on high school students worried about partying and such, how about a high school student who is in college prep classes misses school and can still maintain “A” and “B” grades? My question is why should that child fail because of attendance issues. Some children learn at different levels. Some children get bored sitting in class waiting for the slower children to get to the comprehension level that they are at so they get bored waiting for the rest to catch up. So because of attendance that student fails were does “No Child Left Behind” work here? Because they can excel and do not have a IEP and get bored because the other students take longer to grasp the concept of what is being taught they fall through the cracks.

    • I think the analogy to Finland is flawed. Finland places much more esteem and stricter requirements on teachers than the United States does. The “teachable moment” and “creative teaching” are being handled by highly qualified individuals who enjoy the prestige equal to doctors. Being a product of the Texas public school system myself, I get the feeling that people who just barely got by in college and got a teacher certification ended up teaching as a second choice. I had two teachers during my entire compulsory education who really seemed to care and have a firm enough grasp on the material to teach it creatively. I graduated top ten in my class so I don’t think it was a personal block. I genuinely think that most teachers do not focus on the craft of teaching but focus more on the act of earning a paycheck.

      • I usually try to keep my mouth shut on these matters. But I am going to speak my mind anyway. You are being inconsiderate of teachers everywhere. You may have had a few bad teachers and yes they are a few out there but. There are a whole lot of teachers that do this job because they care. They are having to take money out of their pockets to be creative and be sure that their students have fun learning. So yes I agree they are worried about their pay check but not for the reasons you may think.

    • You are so right! I teach learning disabled high school students, and in order to satisfy the requirements of NCLB and the state in which I teach, I have to teach to the test. This does not work with my students. It is a major disservice to them. It would be nice if the people behind these unrealistic laws would spend some time in the classroom. Maybe then they would get a clue. The lawmakers want to squeeze everyone into the same box. They refuse to recognize differences in learning styles. They refuse to acknowledge that not all students are college bound. I love the students, and I used to love teaching. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore, not only for me, but for many others in the teaching profession.

  11. NCLB seems to be Bush’s unrealistic joke on America to me….and it’s still here. Obama didn’t have the guts to get rid of it, probably because he had nothing to put in its place. Once again who suffers the most while “they” figure this mess out? The children. “They” don’t care though, children don’t vote.

  12. Hello,

    I am a special ed teacher, and have been teaching in the middle school self contained area for 7 years. I have a masters and passed all required tests the first time to be highly qualified in my area. Know with the new regulations I am told I can’t teach in middle or highschool self contained and remain unemployed while taking classes to regain this status. I think it is unfair that they keep changing the requirements. When I am done taking all these classes I can go back to teaching in my area. Until then I can only teach in an elementary school if I can find an opening. Many special ed teachers are in the same boat as me.

    I also agree that the government is getting to test happy. Us teachers are being pressured to teach to the test. If we don’t and test results aren’t were they need to be we can loose are jobs. What happen to teaching knowledge and academics? Also, my students are like Dave’s son. I feel for your situation. I am no longer to teach my students on their ability level and what they need. I have to teach regular standard so my students can take the same test as the regular kids. My kids can’t read, write, or do kindgarten to first grade math! How can they take algebra or pass regular standardized tests in social, science, and English. I fight for my kids and get pricipals to understand my kids will never pass those tests. If I can teach them to read, add simple problems, write simple senteces, and tell me basic concepts in social studies and science, then I am accomplishing something. Then my kids are learning and I am doing my job. The kids in my classes are in middle school and will never be able to do middle or highschool level work, but they can learn. And the government needs to focus on creating solid OCS classes for these kids starting in middle school. Start teaching them waht they need to learn to survive in the real world.

    sorry I got off on a tagent, but I love my kids. And I hate seeing them stress over these tests when they can’t do that level work.

    • “Know with the new regulations …” Know should be Now
      “I also agree that the government is getting to test happy.” to should be too
      “If we don’t and test results aren’t were they need to be we can loose are jobs.” were should be where, loose should be lose, are should be our.
      “I fight for my kids and get pricipals …” pricipals should be principals
      “…write simple senteces…” senteces should be sentences
      “Start teaching them waht …” waht should be what
      “sorry I got off on a tagent,…: tagent should be tangent.

      Based on the numerous mistakes above, I’m not sure you are qualified to do the work.

      • Teresa, thanks for every thing you do. It’s clear that you are passionate about what you do for kids.

        Steve, add something of value to the conversation or keep your comments to yourself. You KNOW that hitting every alpha key on a smart pad or phone isn’t always that easy.

        What matters is the content of the message.

    • Seriously… you are a teacher? Did you bother to spell check or proof read your post? This is terrrible and it scares me to think that you are teaching our children. A little more school may do you some good. I also want to say that teachers should be held accountable for what their students are doing. A teacher should be let go if they are not doing their job, just anyone else in any other job. There is no such thing as job security.

      • Carol,

        You were quick to chastise Teresa for the grammatical mistakes in her posting. Did you proof your comment before posting? “A teacher should be let go if they are not doing their job, just anyone else in any other job.” Is your sentence missing something? I am sure this was just an oversight in your rush to judge Teresa. Your sarcastic comment that additional schooling could do her some good seems to apply to you as well. But only, of course, if your complete intelligence and ability is based on that one post you submitted. Give me a break.

    • Amen! I wish we had special Ed teachers such as you where we are. Maybe then my daughter would learn instead of feel like she’s stupid, which she isn’t. She just has some challenges, and is being forced to accept that failure is okay because no one helps, or even seems to care. I spend hours working on teaching her myself, as well as attend every meeting possible regarding her education, and pull educational meetings to hold staff accountable. We need more caring and nurturing teachers like you who really appreciate what it means to read write and do simple math. in the 7th grade, reading at a 4th grade level due to disabilities and being told she needs to be more accountable when she can’t well, that just shows me they could care less and just want the buck for nothing. Amen you’re out there making a difference. I commend you.

  13. I personally do not agree with the testing that is being done to our children. I have two older children who are 19 & 20 and two younger children who are 11 & 9. I can tell you from personal experience that there has been drastic changes in our educational system with a very large focus on testing/accountablity. And please keep in mind the cost to the taxpayers for these test that can cause tremendous stress on our children with the pressure of having to pass. My older children did take an achievement test but this was only used to determine short comings in an overall classroom. The testing was not there to “grade” a teacher on their abilities, please, these teachers graduated from college to teach. Does the testing for these teachers to graduate not count? The achievement testing also was not used as a leverage in monies the school district received either. My concern is that our children are being taught the nut and bolts with a good foundation to build on. Unfortunately this is not the case. I recently withdrew my 11 year old from school to homeschool and have found that there are many areas inwhich she is unable to function in. For example her abilty of thought process and in being able to figure out problems on her own. Also creative writing has been a big issue! Last year in 5th grade upon returning from a week at camp in January her class began “practicing” for the Ohio Achievement Test with very little nuts and bolts learning being done outside of the test. This went on until almost the end of March when they took the test, leaving little more times due to spring break and the end of the school year events. Basically the end of her 5th grade year was spent learning what was on the test. I live in a city where our school district has received Excellence with Distinction and puts a great focus on this. When my children come to me with worries and concerns about how they will do on “the test” I always tell them as long as they do their best I don’t care what grade they get….. Quite honestly I wouldn’t care if they toused out the whole No Child Left Behind Act because I believe a lot of children are being left behind in an unforseen way due to this poorly planned piece of legislative garbage that cost my family everyday. As for the teachers in our schools, I believe if the leash was taken off of them and they were alouded to “teach” what matters then there would be less problems. Will this fix the concern of “what about the kids who slip through the cracks”? Well maybe that’s were we should be giving incentives, when these kids are caught early, like my oldest son was in second grade and then an individual plan for that one child to help bring him up to par. We can’t expect to implement a program for all children and think it will work. As Pink Floyd sang, Just Another Brick In The Wall.

  14. Formative testing was meant to help teachers inform instruction. Teachers should be able to glean from the data areas of weakness and address the need, instead these tests are used as an end to a means to punish schools and teachers for those areas of weakness. How does this help the student? It doesn’t. We are having to teach every student the same material in the same amount of time and that there is only ONE right answer to every problem instead of allowing them to grow and explore. This is not teaching, it has become nothing but test-taking-strategy-and-skill training!

  15. All I know is my 15 year old learning disabled son cannot read, and is not being taught to read (among other educational deficits). His psychologist has stated that he is of average intelligence. The school refuses to pursue alternative methods of teaching reading that have been recommended to us and teaches him in a manner that I believe is contraindicated by his disability (Apraxia). The school’s response is that he “may never be a reader”, thereby setting up an excuse for failure and basically destroying his chances at life. Where is the excellence? Or even concern? The laws in place are onerous to parents and provide for little or no accountability when a school system fails to do its job. The school has been more than willing to expend approximately $200K fighting us legally and have no concern with the toll it is taking on our family.

  16. There are Studio Schools that are starting in England. They are proving to be extremely successful and from an educator’s standpoint a much better model for a school.

  17. As a parent, I agree with James. The relationship with the teacher becomes more adversarial than collegial. The stress on the kids also needs to be taken into consideration. Standardized tests are limiting and lack emphasis on critical thinking and application of knowledge. There may be more than one way to solve a problem or interpret information, but this is discouraged in favor of cookie cutter answers. This also presents challenges to parents that are trying to help their kids understand material when we may have learned it another way. All the way around NCLB has been a determent to education in the US. Educators and parents need to have a voice in policy, and I am not convinced that we are being heard.

  18. I did not read any material on giving teachers waivers for the Praxis I and Praxis II testing that is also a part of State certification, licensure and hiring highly qualified teachers. I have taken the Praxis II for over 8 years. I have a doctorate degree and yet I am not qualified to teach in an elementary school classroom. Numerous colleagues of mine are sub teaching, because we cannot pass a test that determines our hiring. I am over $175,000 in college loans that need to be repaid. Here again, I am requesting a waiver to pursue my career in teaching at the Elementary School level.

    • I am elementary certified as well as middle school science and social studies certified. I attended a basic elementary education program and passed the PRAXIS I and II to be certified. I then went on to take the PRAXIS for middle school qualification in history and science, I passed both of them. If you cannot pass them, you may still be a good teacher, but if you are educated you should be able to pass them. If you cannot, you probably should not teach.

      • WOW KIm!! hard but true, its time people stop trying to do some thing that they are not good at and find another way to aproach it. You can be helpful in a nother way and who knows you may be able to make some money to pay off those loans. Iam just saying, I have kids to and Bush put the wood to them with ncld and yes he was the president but he realy did not have any bissines in the classroom. dont you think?

  19. There is only one way to improve education:English and math test for 8th grades and English,math,Physics and Chemistry exit examination for 12th grades.All teachers for middle and high schools must have bachelor degree for subject.Every other way will be wrong.

    • @Kudret, what happens after the english and math test in 8th grade? And why Physics and Chemistry exit exams and not arts or history?

    • I am glad my chidren don’t have to go to the school of english, math, physics and chemistry. How limited their education would be!

  20. Standardized test need to become test that are put together with an emphasis on various teaching styles which prove to be more successful than the education system that is present today in the Untied States. The College Board, providers of the SAT, produces the many different AP tests taken all over the country by High School Juniors and Seniors. The AP tests are not comparable to the SAT, ACT or any other flawed standardized tests, because the objectives, quality of questions, and process of grading is of much higher value. For instance, the AP Environmental Science test is measuring a student’s grasp of the knowledge attained in the particular class and this measurement is specific to only the Environmental Science subject. All AP tests are composed of 50% clear, skillful, multiple-choice questions and 50% free response and are graded respectively. This ratio pushes for critical thinking in learning and helps reflect a student’s true progression of information synthesized. The tests are graded by human beings, not a computer, and in particular a veteran AP teacher who has been teaching the subject for five years. Teaching styles will not work without the consideration of a student’s own learning style. The standardized tests today are the limiting factors to such a relationship between the teachers’ and the students’ styles to present and absorb the information.

  21. i dont like our new grading system. where only tests scores count for the grade. i dont feel it will work. the kids are doing work in class and homework. but it dont count towards the grade. and parents dont understand what is going on in our school. and how many kids are going to try when they cant pass the test.

  22. I don’t know that much about the current Senate debate–I’m just a parent with a little girl in second grade.

    One concern I have about testing-based accountability is that it seems to have had a negative effect on parent-teacher interactions. My daughter’s teacher gets so concerned about getting all the kids to pass certain benchmarks, she has trouble listening to us when we tell her about how people tend to learn in our family. Our daughter is a well-above-average reader and takes about 3 seconds to find most countries on a map. She knows all kinds of facts about bugs, volcanoes and tsunamis, the solar system, and whatever else she gets obsessed with reading about in her free time.

    Her teacher, though, is seriously freaked out about her poor attention span when it comes to timed, written math exercises. We’ve tried to explain that our daughter is actually quite good at quantitative reasoning when she can do it one-on-one and verbally, but the teacher doesn’t listen. She just tells us our daughter is behind and needs to be brought into line.

    I think it’s fine to talk about accountability–I’m just frustrated that keeping schools accountable to you seems to make it harder for them to be attentive and accountable to me.

  23. Tests are believed to be a determinant on how much someone knows, but tests aren’t the only way to establish this. A job will determine how much someone knows on that certain subject. For example, everyone thinks being a contractor doesn’t take much knowledge to master, but behind it, a contractor needs to know how to do math; not only algebra and geometry, but calculus and statistics as well. I think that colleges should do the same and shouldn’t just use the different standardized tests to determine if the student meets their standards, but rather be like jobs where they interview the occupant and get to know a little about the person before they accept them. A person’s knowledge represents them for who they are, but standardized tests do not. We shouldn’t rely on standardized tests too much as a representation of what we know.

  24. In my above comment I meant to say that very few charter schools accept ESL students, special Ed. students and children from poor neighborhoods. Of course public schools DO accept these kidos. We are proud to educate everyone. Every child in America deserves the best public education possible in a country that supports public schools and makes sure they have what they need to be successful! Mr. Duncan what you are doing is causing at least half of all the newly trained teachers in America to leave the field of education within their first 5 years if not sooner. Also lots of very talented teachers and principals all over the country are retiring early because of the rigors of your militaristic style of NCLB. And believe me, that is hurting students. In the 10 years that NCLB has been enacted LESS students across the U.S. have graduated from high school. How is that helping our young people? It is not. NCLB and Race to the Top are leaving countless students behind!

  25. Arne Duncan although you may have done some good things in the past you are destroying public education in America. Great public schools are a cornerstone of our democracy. With your push for charter schools our public schools all over the U.S. are becoming more segregated white vs. black or brown. Research shows that charter schools in the long run really aren’t doing better than public schools. You manipulate by playing on peoples’ ignorance, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The real truth about most public schools is that the majority of them take very few children from poor neighborhoods, ESL kids and special ed students, so when they tout their “high scores” that’s why. They’re misleading. Lots of Republicans love them because they hate “big govt.” and because they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes. And lots of rich corporate people “like” charter schools because they stand to make big money off of them. And “Race to the Top” is even worse than NCLB. What you have done to hurt public schools and to vilify teachers all over this country is pure evil. I voted for Obama but I am so angry that he hired you. You are a disgrace to the Dept. Of Education. I know that the Republicans want to shut down the federal Dept. Of Ed. If that’s what it takes to get you out of there than I support that idea. Mr. Duncan have you ever taught on public schools? For how many years and in what schools and where? I truly doubt it. Although I do believe in accountability, what you are doing is punishing the teachers and principals who work so hard in the high poverty schools. You try to pretend that poverty has nothing to do with problems that poor children face, that is a bold faced lie. Please show me public some schools in districts with wealth and educated parents with low test scores, I’d bet you can’t name any at all. I’d like to see a public debate between you and Diane Ravitch. She could put you in your place because she is knowledgeable about sound, authentic education research. You make me so angry and so ashamed of all the damage you have done. All of the public school teachers I know refuse to volunteer for President Obama this time around and / or donate one penny to his reelection campaign because of how you have disrespected teachers. Shame on you Mr. Duncan!

    • I absolutely agree! I thought George Bush did a smackdown on teachers but Arne Duncan has done much, much worse! Our states agreed to all the “tricks” teachers would “turn” just to get the RTTT money….Accountability is fine if it is realistic and fair.

    • The Race To The Top and Arne Duncan have made an even bigger mess of public education than NCLB. Children spend their day at school preping for test after taest. In the first week of school wher I teach students took no less than 3 test an some took 5. There is the DIBELS test, Easy CBM in readinand math, ORI another reading placement test, these are the 3 test all students take. Then if the student show a deficit in an area the are more tests. If the student is an ELL ( English Langauge Learner) there is that test to take. The first week of school is all about the tests, in the following months the students are tested over and over again to show “gains and growth” . They take the OAKS standardized test 3 times during the year in the fall, winter and spring. This test is one that students should be able to pass at the END of the year, but schools can adminster the test a total of 3 times, this lets teachers “teach to the test” which they HAVE to do if they want to keep their job. Our teachers are now recieving merit pay if their class does well on the test, if the class doesn’t do well the teacher can be and they have been terminated from their job.
      Schools are under enormous pressure to get test scores up but my real concern is WHAT ARE PARENTS DOING TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN BE SUCCESSFUL IN SCHOOL? On any given day I hear from my students what video games they played last night, or about the inappropriate movie they watched with their parent last night and how tired they are because they stayed up late. I ask them did you read or do your homework and the reply is always the same, “NO I didn’t have time” they were busy doing the things I mentioned.
      I love teaching but the parents of the children I teach are not being held accountable for basic parenting skills making it extremly difficult to teach these children. I am teacher, mother, parent, rule maker, meal provider and most importantly babysitter ( I have had many parents say who will watch my kids now that school is out for the summer!) to all my students. Please tell me where are the parents of the children we are educating? Stop making teachers the bad guys in the education crisis. Hold parents accountable for even the basics like getting their child to school on time everyday.

      • I completely agree with everything that has been said. Standardized testing is killing our public schools system. Pair that with the lack of parenting skills that is running rampant in our society and it is a lethal combination. I am a social worker and see soooooo many kids who have absent parents. Either the parents are physically available but are not doing the things parents should be doing (setting boundaries and rules, teaching the kids right from wrong, and just basic parentig skills and responsibilities) or they are not physically present because they are a single parent working 2 jobs. Even worse, I see many kids being raised by grandparents because mom and/or dad are not around, in prison, dead, etc… So many kids just don’t have the support system to be success in school. How are they to learn to care about themselves and value and education if no one cares for them and placs a value on them getting an education.

        Now, the standarized testing, I think enough has been said about the negative effects if places on the schools, the teachers, and the students. My daughter is dyslexic but does well in school, or at least she does well enough to be above ‘their standard’. However, I knew very early that she was struggling. In kindegarten she tested at the gifted and talented level. By second grade she had fallen below that. I begged every year to have her tested for dyslexia and to get help for it. But because she made A’s she was pushed to the side. Finally in 3rd grade her teacher recognized the signs of dyslexia and told me that she would haev her tested. Then she got her first report card with straight A’s. I was then told that my daughter was not a priority! WHAT? YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!!! They said she would be tested by the end of the year. Even though she was reading on a 1st grade level and her writing and spelling were so bad that you could not read it. Then she scored Commended on her Math TAKS and almost got comended on Reading TAKS. This time I ony got an email stating that there was not an academic need to test my child. I was furious. They don’t care that she is being educated to the best of her ability, only that she is above the standard! WHAT A CROCK!!! I hate our public schools. Not the schools themselves but the environment that the NCLB and standardized test have created.

        I know that many people feel that if more people place their kids in charter schools and public schools that it will make the situation worse for the public schools and I completely agree. however, I had to do what was best for my daughter as I am responsible to her care and raising, not the rest of society. Being a social worker this was a very difficult decision for me to make as it is in the very fiber of my being to help others and do my social responsibility. But after the “she is not a priority” remark and the “no academic need to test your child” email we chose to put her in a private school. My family has made many sacrifices and we are pooling $ from grandparents to help with the tuition. But the results are noting but astonding. In a year and a half my daughter has improved so much. We are on a waiting list to get professional help for her dyslexia but her grades have gone up to high A’s and she is again testing on a gifted and talented level. Not to mention that she is not force fed standarized test and critical thinking skills are encouraged in every subject. The expectations but on her and her classmates are higher. Add this to the fact that she is in a much smaller classroom with other kids who’s parents are as involved and value their childrens education as much as my husband and I do. I am sooooo in love with her school and tell everyone it is the best decision I have ever made. By the way, my daughter is now reading on an 8th grade level and is only in the 5th grade. Her reading speed is still a little slow but her comprehension is phenominal!

        It truely makes me sad for all the students who are being educated in this manner. It also makes me fear what our society is going to become when we have so many kids leaving schools who can’t think for themselves and their education is sub-par. When the teachers are free to teach and the kids are prepared to learn it is a magical thing. Did I mention that the teachers at my daughters private school make less than in they did when they were in the public schools? And several that I have spoken to say that they will never return to public school teaching. They site the pressure of the standardized test, the having to teach to the test, as well as the sheer amount of students who are not prepared to learn and lack of parental involvement for making them feel that way.

        The whole situation is bad.

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