No Child Left Behind doesn't work

When my stepson was in elementary school, I remember how much we dreaded him going into third grade because of the FCAT – the standarized test all children had to take to be promoted to the fourth grade as mandated by the No Child Left Behind law. We weren't worried he wouldn't pass it, after all, he was a straight-A student. But my husband and I had heard how school basically became a test preparation center for children in third grade and how teachers would really just teach to the test so their students would pass. A complete waste of time.

Now 10 states have been given waivers freeing the from the strict requirements of the No Child Left Behind law which, to me, proves that it never worked.

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Its original goal was to get children into grade level in reading and math, which is absolutely basic and necessary if the U.S. wants to continue being a superpower. Without education, a society cannot move forward. But this goal can't be achieved by meausings students progress with standarized tests, allowing teachers to teach them only what will be on the test – so their schools don't get penalized – and neglecting all other subjects in the process. 

President Obama said back in September that the law was admirable, but flawed effort and that it hurt students more than it helped them. As the 2014 deadline to meet requirements under the law approaches, the deficiency of the law is obvious as, according to the Center on Education Policy, nearly half the schools in the nation failed to meet them last year.

I'm all for making sure that all children are proficient in math and reading, especially when there's so many low-income and minority students who're not getting the same education opportunities as others. But, there has to be another way – a better way – of achieving this that steers away from the bureaucracy and focuses on the real task at hand: educating our children. To that end, the 10 states that got waivers have "agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness," a White House official said.

 The education system in this country is broken, there's no question about that. It's time for all of us, even those who are not parents, to take a real serious look at what's happening and find a way to fix it or the outcome will be desastrous.

If you live in one of the states that was given a waiver, what do you think about this decision? Have your children ever been taught to the test? Do you support the No Child Left Behind law?

Image via LShave/flickr