No Child Left Behind: A Failure?
Well that is what Anderson (frequent OTB commenter) is saying, as well as Mark Kleiman. Here is the bottom line, each state has to attain 100% proficiency in reading in math by 2014, but each state can select its own standard. So naturally states are responding by dumbing down the standards.
After Tennessee tested its eighth-grade students in math this year, state officials at a jubilant news conference called the results a “cause for celebration.” Eighty-seven percent of students performed at or above the proficiency level.
But when the federal government made public the findings of its own tests last month, the results were startlingly different: only 21 percent of Tennessee’s eighth graders were considered proficient in math.
Of course, I see this as a reason to reduce the governments role in education not expand (probably the exact oppisite policy that Anderson would conclude). The reason is that I don’t see how to avoid this problem and not spend buckets of cash. The No Child Left Behind has resulted in massive increases in federal education spending (link, link, link), and at the same time we have either no improvement in actual proficiency or possible even a decline. To get the improvement my guess is we’d probably have to spend even more.
I suppose one could argue that what is needed are tests determined by the federal government. But I bet each state would lobby hard to make sure such tests are not that tough, and that right there would be a waste of resources. And of course, if the lobbying is successful we’d see precisely the result we are seeing now. Further, I wouldn’t even be surprised if the administration were to water down federal standards with little or no lobbying, it would ensure that the policy produced “good results”.
I say get the government out of education. Set up a voucher system. Set it up so that parents have to fork over part of the tuition. Once parents start having to cough up the dough every month so their kid can get an education I bet more parents would be interested that they are “getting their money’s worth”.