No Child Left Behind Damaged Public Education

Former No Child Left Behind Supporter Ravitch: Policies Are “Ruining American Education.” From the transcript of an interview with Diane Ravitch on National Public Radio:

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: Diane Ravitch is the former assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush. During her time in that administration and afterwards, she advocated standardized testing and expanding school choice through charter schools. Those would later become key elements of No Child Left Behind under President George W. Bush, but she eventually became a critic of these approaches. […] Was there some specific piece of data or something that convinced you that these ideas were flawed?

DIANE RAVITCH: When I believed that they would work, they hadn’t been tried. Once they were tried, I was convinced that they didn’t work and, in fact, not only were they failing, but they’re ruining American education and they’re actually leading the way today towards privatization of public education, which I think would be a disaster. [NPR, 10/10/12]

No Child Left Behind Encouraged Poorer Schools To Lower Standards And Took Away Incentives To Teach Curricula Beyond Reading And Math. According to the National Journal, “Critics say that the real damage from No Child Left Behind comes from curricula too focused on reading and math, coupled with standardized tests that don’t measure comprehension. Under the law, testing became its own game, which further narrowed the focus within math and reading instruction. Not surprisingly, this trend occurred most frequently in the poorest schools that were most in danger of sanctions under the law. Allowing the states to implement No Child Left Behind, a major concession by its congressional authors, has been detrimental to student achievement in some places, because states have lowered their standards so that fewer schools will be labeled as failing. […] State implementation also hurt some students because they suddenly had to do less to be considered proficient.” [National Journal, 12/8/11]

Ravitch: “Testing Should Be Used Diagnostically” But “It’s Being Used To Punish Teachers.” According to Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush, speaking on NPR, “Testing does not close achievement gaps. Testing just shows that there are gaps, but then you have to do something about it. Testing should be used diagnostically. It should not be used the way we’re using it today. It’s being used to punish teachers, to close schools and to do all sorts of high stake things like merit pay and basing teachers’ evaluation on testing, and that’s wrong. The cause of the achievement gap is poverty and segregation, and an absence of resources. Wherever you find that toxic combination of high poverty and racial segregation, you will find low test scores. And so what’s happening today is that we – first, we have No Child Left Behind, which I believe is a failed policy.” [NPR, 10/10/12]