To the Editor:
The No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated annual standardized testing in U.S. public schools, states that National Assessment of Educational Progress scores will be used to evaluate its effectiveness. My organization’s analysis of NAEP results, however, shows that overall student achievement was rising faster before NCLB went into effect. The rate of score gains for African-Americans, English-language learners, and students with disabilities generally slowed under NCLB.
These results refute claims by defenders of the test-every-kid-every-year status quo, who argue that NCLB’s annual-exam mandate helps public schools.
NCLB’s failure to raise scores on independent standardized exams is significant in light of widespread curriculum-narrowing resulting from the need for classroom time for test preparation. Other serious problems, such as pushing low scorers out of school and widespread cheating, are also part of NCLB’s legacy.
Annual testing has flunked out based on its own standards. Congress must limit federal testing requirements to one grade each in elementary, middle, and high school, as in the pre-No Child Left Behind era. There is no justification for continuing to shackle schools with every-grade testing.
Robert A. Schaeffer
Public Education Director
National Center for Fair & Open Testing
A version of this article appeared in the March 25, 2015 edition of Education Week as Annual Testing Shackles Schools and Students