If not NCLB, Then What?

What did people hate most about NCLB?

It was once-yearly, high-stakes, standardized testing.

When President Obama announced the end of NCLB, everyone cheered! But our joy was tempered with this question: what now? Will the unhealthy emphasis on high-stakes testing finally end?

It doesn’t look like it in our state, Utah. Instead, our brilliant legislature added a new component: grades for schools. Based on test scores, and a few other unimportant items, our schools will get A-F. Our legislators got this idea from Florida, which also grades its schools and teachers. However, in Florida, class sizes are kept small by law, and here in Utah, we have the largest class sizes in the nation. There will be no law to make them smaller.

If legislators really want to help teachers, they will abolish the undue emphasis on once-yearly high-stakes standardized tests. Sure, we can measure student progress, but only as a way to focus our instruction to help them learn. High-stakes testing doesn’t do that. It assumes that everyone will remember everything from the beginning of the year, even though recent brain research reveals that we humans do not retain information that way.

Who gets the final say in this? Is it possible for policy-makers to look past the easy answer of standardized testing to a more useful and humane solution?


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