The public school sector is now in the “age of accountability.” The success of the teachers, school, and school systems is being measured according to specific mastery of pre-determined standards examined through standardized testing rather than gains in their educational knowledge. I point my finger at the 2007 reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which suggests an increase to the rigor of curriculum and state standards as they relate to national standards.
Now, before NCLB, school systems were using standards and measures to determine academic success within a school. Unfortunately, since its birth, accountability has increased in intensity with high stakes being the new trend. I believe that Standards-Based reform will ultimately fail the public school system with its present design due to the basis of the design implementation, its unrealistic goals, and the poor alignment of standards with available resources.
Why use it?
The two main purposes for standards must be noted. First, nationally, at one point, America was perceived to have lost economic competiveness when compared to national student achievement in science and mathematics.
Second, there is a growing achievement gap between middle to upper class white students with disadvantaged students. Because of this, state standards were formulated in effort to increase achievement expectations for all students across the board. Beginning in 2007-2008, laws required our many states to develop a statewide accountability system that would ensure success within schools and school districts.
First, the NLB act was based on a business model developed by businessman Ross Perot called the Texas standards movement. The legislators, in accordance with Perot, tried to simplify and standardize the educational process of planning, teaching, and assessment. It was an attempt to make the school’s curriculum teacher proof and require a checklist for teacher habits and also test students for their minimum skills learned.
The problem with the design was that it was a business focus that skewed the importance of teachers in education. The design implementation was faulty in that it did not take in consideration a teacher’s ability to influence or discourage students and their ability to motivate. Also, testing does not measure a student’s emotional development, educational progress throughout the year (education gains), creativity, and the development of social awareness. How will standardized tests measure such important factors?
Furthermore, NCLB, the main reason for Standards-Based Reform, proposed unrealistic goals for our public school systems. By 2014, it required that all students be proficient on state standards in the areas of reading and math. This is level never attained before. Schools systems cannot meet unrealistic demands imposed by laws. Also, it is not likely that schools in economically disadvantaged areas will be able to make the cut. We are now witnessing the consequences of said unrealistic goals in the form of teaching the test, stakeholder frustration, high teacher turnover, and cheating on standardized test in order to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Lastly, one major issue with Standards-Based Reform has been the poor alignment of the state standards with the available resources within the school systems. School systems within the 50 states have not worked together to ensure all students are being taught the same information.
In our current economic decline, schools systems do not have the budget to implement the training, obtain materials, and recruit the teacher necessary to ensure state standards are being used and followed by all stakeholders involved. There have also been issues with the development of assessments that align with the new curricula and pedagogy of teachers necessary to promote high standards testing. The result is an accountability system that does not match the curriculum or instruction within the school walls.
I agree that our present state of education need to be revamped to ensure student achievement across the nation. Unfortunately, Standards-Based Reform, as it is being implemented today has not and will not work. Based on its poor design, unrealistic goals, and lack of alignment with resources and expectations, Standards-Based Reform is bound to create more issue rather than solving the problem. There will not be any quick fix all solutions to our longstanding issue, but with cooperation and effort I know the public schools of America can make strides to better our current state of being.