Leave this effort behind
Re “Student scores level off in state,” Aug. 16
The article on test scores references No Child Left Behind and its requirement that every child be proficient by 2013. Does anyone still take NCLB seriously? The current scores show that 100% proficiency is not going to happen. Any new gains will be an uphill struggle of inches, not miles. Without reciting a litany, the present Republican administration has been wrong about every other initiative of the last six years and has lied to the American people to put its poorly considered policies into practice. Why would anyone still believe that NCLB is an exception to the administration’s pattern of failure and fraud? As an elementary school teacher, I do not.
As a teacher, I am fed up with getting the blame for poor test scores in California. We have a huge burden trying to teach tough standards to millions of non-English speaking children. They are what bring our scores down, so we put all of our money, time and effort into these children. I wish I had an answer for why our Hispanic and black students continue to score poorly, but I can assure you it is not for lack of effort on the part of our schools. We are knocking ourselves out and bending over backward to try to help these students.
Fewer than one-half of all California public school students perform at levels considered to be proficient or better. Many tend to view this as a failure of the public school system, but in my mind the results also raise questions about our reliance on standardized testing to measure student and school performance. I wonder how well the test results reflect student abilities relative to realistic expectations, such as the abilities of the professionals who set the standards.
I propose that the same tests that are given to high school students be administered under the exact same conditions to teachers at all levels, school administrators responsible for curricula and teaching standards, and the state officials who set the state content standards for California public schools.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how their scores compare with the students we are so alarmed about? And what benefits might follow if that experience should improve the politicians’ and professional educators’ sense of the realities of public education? It would be worth the cost of doing it.