You might have missed it in the news, but one of the most wide-reaching laws of the new millennium, one that had support across the political spectrum and was touted as a major achievement that would fix our education system, might be dying a quiet death.
The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, was an extensive piece of legislation with many different parts. But one thing about it everyone seems to agree on is that its strong focus on standardized testing was ineffective, putting tremendous pressure on schools and teachers without effectively teaching students.
Well, almost everyone.
Indiana just signed a law instituting stricter standards for ISTEP testing. Specifically, there’s a much higher pass-fail cutoff, which it’s estimated will immediately increase the percentage of students failing - which will, in turn, drop letter grades for certain schools. Which could, if such ratings persist, cause control of said schools to go from their community to the state.
To a cynical observer, considering the state’s unfavorable policies toward public education since the Mitch Daniels administration, this could be construed as a way to force public schools into state control or closing. But even if these new standards were meant to positively motivate students and schools, it’s hard to see that happening after it’s been tried already, especially since Indiana’s new standards are higher than NCLB.
Why is the state taking this route? They rebuffed federal standards by rejecting Common Core, and yet now they’re doubling down on the standardized testing focus that was a pillar of NCLB.
The answer, I think, is that much anti-Common Core fervor is less about finding an effective education policy than a rallying cry for small-government ideologues. Well, it doesn’t matter if it comes from the state level or federal level: when something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And does anyone want to argue more standardized testing and stricter accountability standards have worked?