With Education Secretary Arne Duncan warning Congress that he’ll take matters into his own hands if lawmakers this year fail to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, eSchool News recently asked readers: “What’s one change/revision/addition you’d like to see in ESEA?”
The nation’s education law is long overdue for a revision, and Duncan has called its current tangle of strict accountability measures “a slow-motion train wreck for schools,” noting that as many as 80 percent of schools could be labeled failures next year if the law isn’t changed.
Holding up the process in Congress is broad disagreement over how to revise ESEA in a way that is fair to schools, while still holding them accountable for student success. Here are the eight best suggestions we received from readers who are on the front lines of these issues, edited for brevity and presented in no particular order:
1. Change student testing.
“It’s time for rational and fiscal responsibility: End the ridiculous and unnecessary yearly testing of students. Anyone with even a minimum knowledge of statistics knows that there are fallacies in data results from so much testing … regression to the mean, bell curve normal distribution of scores … we can’t all be at the mean, that defies the laws of nature. Let our teachers teach creative and critical thinking skills, as opposed to how to bubble in the best multiple-choice response.” —Patricia F. Wood, Ph.D.
2. Understand the need for personalized instruction.
“I would like to see time as a variable and mastery what we measure. Children learn at different rates and have different preferential learning modalities. Each child is the class.” —Abraham Fischler