We know that the No Child Left Behind law—the lingering legacy of the George W. Bush Administration—requires standardized testing to measure elementary-school students’ proficiency in reading and math. But with emphasis placed on those learning tools, with a regimen of tests and more tests, many thousands of youngsters are deficient in history, civics, the arts and other subjects. There just isn’t enough class time for vital knowledge anymore.
But now another misguided focus on standardized tests is sweeping the country. The new fashion mandates that in each grade, students must be collectively tested for proficiency in a wider range of subjects: “the common core.”
Forty-five states have clambered onto this creaking bandwagon. Despite much public alarm about the stagnant economy, “the cost will be enormous,” wrote Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus of education and linguistics at the University of Southern California, in a New York Times Sunday Dialogue devoted to “Improving Our Schools.” Echoing what I and others have reported, Krashen pointed out, “Research shows that increasing testing does not increase achievement.”
Young students are constantly pressured to pass these tests, which can determine the future course of their lives. But what I find more unforgivable is that teachers are utterly ignoring their students’ individual needs and progress.