Education Policy to Watch in the Election
Standardized tests have been around since the 1800s. The 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandated annual testing in all 50 states. In 2009, U.S. students were being out-performed in math and science and had no change in reading. Failures in the education system were blamed on rising poverty levels, teacher qualifications, tenure policies and the pervasive use of standardized tests. Supporters of standardized tests believe that they are fair and objective measures of student achievement, and that they ensure that educators are accountable to taxpayers. Opponents say the tests are biased and subjective, and that their use promotes a narrow curriculum. They feel teachers are simply “teaching to the test.”
President Obama believes that too much testing makes education rote and that performance should be measured in more ways than test scores, but his own education program, Race to the Top, promotes a Common Core Standards, a set of educational standards for English, language arts, and mathematics that states can voluntarily adopt. There will be new tests in 2014 that are based on this set of standards.
Romney is a supporter of standardized testing. He credits the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 with providing a much-needed boost to accountability. In 2008, he was one of the NCLB law’s biggest champions. He believes that high standards are critical to high student achievement. He advocates that consistent student achievement is the starting point for improving the education system. If schools perform well, they get greater flexibility for assessment in the future.
Another issue is that of school choice, which means simply giving families the opportunity to choose the school their children attend. Those options include the choice between other public schools, private schools, and charter schools, tax credit and deductions for expenses related to schooling, vouchers and homeschooling.
In 2008, President Obama voted no on vouchers that would use public money to send students to private schools. He does support charter schools and has provided some grant money to states that start charter schools.
Romney wants students from low-income families and those with disabilities to be able to attend any public school in their state or a private school with federal funding. Romney favors voucher programs and has said that he supports more useful evaluations of schools, so parents have the information they need to make choices.
No Child Left Behind
President George W. Bush created No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2001 to fund a number of federal programs aimed at improving the performance of U.S. schools by increasing the standards of accountability for states, school districts and schools.
The NCLB calls for states to reach 100 percent proficiency in reading and math tests in 2014 or face several sanctions, including the loss of federal funding. Obama has undercut this threat by introducing waivers allowing states to exchange aggressive NCLB goals for reform measures to increase teacher performance and retention.
Romney supports NCLB. He believes that there is room for change, specifically by putting more focus on individual student achievement, rather than the overall progress of specific schools, and adding flexibility in testing for high-achieving schools.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
On June 18, lawmakers in Orange County, California, finally voted on a bill that would address a controversial practice by the Anaheim School District. A.B. 166, proposed by Assemblyman Jose Solorio, prohibits school districts from including information about a student’s test scores or grades on identification cards or “any object a student might be required to carry while at school.”
Last fall, for the second year, Anaheim schools were issuing mandated student identification cards that were color coded based on the student’s performance on the previous year’s standa…
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Besides students who are struggling, unmotivated or disruptive, there’s one difficulty you’re bound to come across during your career: cheating. Studies show that an overwhelming number of students cheat, be it copying a classmate's homework, plagiarizing an essay or attempting to outsmart a high-stakes exam.
The Internet, cell phones and other technological gadgets have made it easier and (unfortunately) more efficient for students to cheat. Students who cheat are becoming sneakier and more creative as they think of new ways to avoid actually studying. But as long as teachers are vigilant and know what to look for, it’s still easy to pick up on the methods your students are using to cheat. The following are four …
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Ken Jennings couldn’t.
The man who made history in 2004 by winning 74 consecutive rounds of Jeopardy wasn’t able to figure out the short story presented to eighth graders across New York during a reading exam this past April. The story, which has gone down in infamy (it even has its own Facebook page), involves a