A study by the Center on Education Policy casts doubt on the conventional wisdom that No Child Left Behind causes teachers to shortchange high and low-performers, given the law’s incentives to get students to the proficient level.
“If accountability policies were indeed shortchanging high- and low-achieving students, we would expect to see stagnation or decline at the basic and advanced levels,” says Jack Jennings, CEP’s President. “Instead, the percentages of students scoring at the basic-and-above and advanced levels have increased much more often than they have decreased, especially in the lower grades.”
Hear, hear for higher test scores at all chievement levels. But how does that show high achieving students aren’t suffering under NCLB? Testing is a measure of where students are, not where they could or even should be. If there’s anything I learned teaching at a struggling school, it’s that the stronger students are largely assumed to be doing fine despite being neglected–a point nailed precisely in the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s “Achievement Trap” report a few years back.
Such children are dandelions. They will find a way to grow even in the harshest conditions. I can walk out onto the sidewalk and gather a bouquet of dandelions growing up through the pavement cracks. That doesn’t prove I’m a good gardener.