Children are still being left behind

Jeff Lombardi and Jeff Lombardi

There are millions of children in this nation being left behind. Through unsafe learning conditions and stressful standardized tests, our nation’s youth are being pressurized more than ever before. Children are taking some form of a standardized test at almost every grade of their public school life. So, why do we do this to them?

A large part of the answer is that the federal government gives schools a certain amount of money based on standardized tests scores.

The No Child Left Behind Act is the name given to the demon of the insane amounts of testing put on our children. It doles out money to schools based upon how they perform on a number of criteria, with standardized test scores as a major component.

Recently, an Associated Press report said about 2 million students were being excluded from the results of the test scores for various reasons.

One action small schools carry out is that they omit a certain portion of failing students. This, the schools feel, gives the government a better, more accurate picture of the education taking place in that school.

Furthermore, if they were to leave in this group of students that are falling behind, and the whole school falls short under the NCLB standards, that school gets reduced government funding.

There are a few implications here that I would like to point out.

First of all, if a school omits the scores of failing students just to get more federal dollars, that completely contradicts the point of NCLB, which is to bring all schools in the nation up to a high standard.

Secondly, the mere omission of certain test scores to get ahead points to the fact the NCLB is fundamentally flawed and gives more cause for schools to be dishonest when reporting scores. The thought here is that “Oh, well, there’s no way we’re going to meet the law, so let’s cut some of the slack so that we do pass.”

The law forces schools to be dishonest.

Another way schools can omit students’ scores is by setting the minimum group size so high that they do not have to report scores by race. Therefore, a large number of minority scores are not reported.

All of this reaffirms the fact that No Child Left Behind is inadequate. It simply does not work. If schools are focusing attention on how to adjust their scores so as to meet the requirements under the law, then the point of the law has been lost.

Any passed law is meant to protect us and be easy to follow. Stopping at traffic lights, not stealing and not hitting another human being with a car are all laws that make sense, because they are not difficult to follow. So, if a law is too hard to follow, then the law is inherently broken.

What happens with NCLB is when schools fall short under the law, federal money gets taken away, which pressures school administrators to force the teachers to improve the education without the federal money.

But how is this possible? If money is continually taken away from the schools, how do they improve?

They don’t. They continually get worse, because they get less money, and the test scores continue to go down. More money is then taken away.

When school administrators are taking time to find ways to stretch their test results to the limits of the law, they are taking time away from finding ways to improve the education in their schools.

By this way of thinking, learning suffers, because administrators are not spending enough time on improving education. Therefore, the test scores go down more, taking more money out of the pockets of the schools and, ultimately, the children.

This cycle will continue until the schools do not get any money from the federal government whatsoever. It will instead go to funding a pointless war, because history has shown that when we need money, education is the first thing cut. But somehow, the federal government puts more pressure on schools to be better and they get blamed when our youth are “falling behind.”

The ultimate solution is to leave this law behind.

Send comments to [email protected].