Saturday, December 29, 2012

No Cheater Left Behind

As the 10-year anniversary of No Child Left Behind drew closer, 44 Atlanta schools in my home town of Atlanta were found guilty of altering test scores. When the state of Georgia performed an investigation, it issued a report stating that cheating on standardized tests date back to 2001 and occurred in nearly half of the city’s schools. Coincidence? Some would say so, but it seems that the way the program is structured facilitates an environment for increased cheating. Ever since the program was signed into law by President Bush in 2002, test results have become a driving force in the hiring and firing of teachers and principals alike.
Former Atlanta School Superintendent, Dr. Beverly L. Hall, ruled an empire of fear with an iron fist, an empire where principals were made or broken depending on the test scores they could produce. Throughout her 10-year tenure, 90 percent of the principals that worked under her were removed. Principals that didn’t measure up to her standards were humiliated during rallies at the Georgia Dome. Those with the highest test scores got to sit up front near her while the rest were relegated to the anonymity of the bleachers. Hall is remembered by her co-workers as “the queen in her ivory tower,” says Verdaillia Turner, president of the Atlanta teachers’ union. Hall’s tactics garnered her national recognition, but although she was hosted at the White House by the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and named the superintendent of the year by two national organizations, her glory was short-lived. When the Atlanta miracle collapsed, the ugly truth revealed that 178 principals and teachers had cheated to grant students who could barely read proficient scores on state tests. It seems that No Child Left Behind is the culprit of thousands, if not millions, of children being “left behind”, left illiterate and undereducated. Since schools receive increased governmental money for producing test scores that meet a certain criteria, what happened in the Atlanta Public School System is not an isolated event, nor is it the last of the cheating scandals. In one survey conducted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it was found that many states do not use basic test security measures designed to stop cheating on tests. Cheating scandals have surfaced in several major cities, and 196 school districts exhibited patterns of suspicious test scores. Under No Child Left Behind, schools that don’t meet acceptable criteria must allow students to transfer to different institutions and offer tutoring services to those who remain. So not only does the program reward higher test scores, it also costs schools extra money if they cannot “make the grade”. Simply put, No Child Left Behind is a program that the nation needs to leave behind.

1 comment:

  1. Douglas J. Bender (Dickinson...Elkhart)February 25, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    "No Child Left Behind" is a bad program. But it cannot be blamed for the dishonesty of those teachers and administrators, nor in particular for the glory-seeking and self-aggrandizing behavior of Beverly Hall.