The No Child Left Behind Act has been an important part of our education as future teachers as well as for current teachers across the country for years. The Seven Deadly Sins of No Child Left Behind questions whether or not it is really working in America and offers suggestions for education reform. Each sin offers the reader several points against the act that cannot be ignored.
Paul D. Houston writes, It is time to change direction. It is now universally accepted, even by those who authored the bill, that NCLB is flawed and needs fixing. Houston takes a deep look into the factors such as socioeconomic status of students, English-language learners, and the shift in required skill sets to survive in today s changing economy.
It has been described that the first sin addresses the assumption that schools are broken (Houston). Education reform is driven by a system of beliefs that must be altered. The system itself is in fact quite successful, not broken as it has been described by critics. The problem itself is not in the system but in the fact that the world has changed and education must change with it. According to Houston, schools throughout the country are doing better than most people assume they are, though the reports of standardized testing may reflect a different statement which brings us to the second sin.
The second sin is described as issues with testing and education. We as teachers know best that standardized testing does not always reflect the true intelligence of our students. Though standardized testing may be the easiest way to measure our intelligence against students in other countries, it should not be the only measure used.
Sin Number 3 suggests that No Child Left Behind, in fact, does leave behind those children in poverty stricken situations. Those who see poverty as an intervening variable have been accused of having lowered expectations for disadvantaged children. With a significant amount of government funding going to districts with successful academic ratings (many of which have the money to provide their students with books and top technology), poorer schools have even less ability to provide their kids with the necessary tools for a better education.
The first 3 sins alone in Houston s article raise a lot of questions as to whether or not NCLB is really working. Sin 4 suggests that fear and coercion push educators to teach to the test, and Sin 5 suggests that the law itself is unclear in many aspects. Sin 6 suggests that government officials could not possibly know what s best for students and that educators themselves are the best judge of that, and Sin 7 implies that the law undermines our international competitiveness (Houston).
Houston ends the article by giving his own suggestions as to ways we can reform our education system in America. Ways to tailor it to today s needs in today s economy. Though Houston clearly displays a biased opinion on NCLB, he offers a real insight into a growing problem that must be addressed.
Source: Houston, P. D. The Seven Deadly Sins of No Child Left Behind. Phi Delta Kappa International Online accessed on November 28, 2010 at pdkmembers(dot)org/members_online/publications/Archive/pdf/k0706hou.pdf