No Child Left Behind…or Many?
No Child Left Behind…or Many?
June 8, 2004
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has resulted in federal involvement in education at a level never before experienced in the history of education reform. One provision of NCLB is standardized testing which measures school accountability and student progress. A review of literature on the issue of NCLB led to the question of how NCLB and its resultant standardized testing has impacted the classroom. To determine the effects of NCLB on what is taught in the classroom as well as how teachers teach, a survey of educators in Washington state and North Carolina was conducted. Responses indicated strong tendencies of agreement with the thesis that the No Child Left Behind Act has impacted teaching on many fronts: creativity and supplemental activities; non-tested subject areas; alignment of curriculum to tests; altered teaching techniques; teacher autonomy; and stress levels.
No Child Left Behind…or Many?
John F. Kennedy once said, “A child miseducated is a child lost.” This tenet is the driving force for educators and education policy-makers. [Intro paragraph should be longer]
History and Background
In 1965, as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) provided $2 billion to help states improve education for our nation’s poor (Young, 2004. President Reagan commissioned an inquiry into the state of education in the United States, resulting in the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk,” which indicated mediocrity in education and called for the establishment of academic standards developed at the state level. By 1990, the National Center for Educational Statistics reported that standards-based accountability was succeeding at the state level (Young, 2004). During President Clinton’s term, the federal focus on standards and accountability continued as federal funds were used to enforce conformity to the requirements of a reauthorization of the 1965 ESEA.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was signed into law by President George Bush on January 8, 2002. According to the White House website, the Act begins “In America, no child should be left behind. Every child should be educated to his or her full potential.” NCLB is another reauthorization of ESEA, and expands the federal role in education further than ever before. States are required to test students annually in certain content areas (reading, mathematics, and science); all students must meet a level of “proficiency”; schools must show “adequate yearly progress” targets and issue annual report cards with test scores broken down by subgroup (such as minority students and special education students); and teachers must be certified and demonstrate proficiency in subjects taught (Rebora, 2004).
Problems with the Act
There has been much controversy over the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. Part of the controversy centers on the 1983 “A Nation at Risk” report, the catalyst for many of the educational reform measures of NCLB. The report was critical of the state of American education. However, a 1998 report by the National Center for Educational Statistics compared 13-year-old science students from individual states to students from other states and other nations and showed that students from fourteen states within the United States would be among the top fifteen internationally (U.S. Department of Education, 1998). A comparison of 13-year-old math students showed twelve of the top twenty were U.S. states (Suter, 1996). Professor Donald C. Orlich, in his report titled “Surprise: American Schools May Just Be World Class” (2003), argues that the basic foundation for education reform is flawed in its foundation on the failure of American education as research reveals that this negative portrait of our nation’s schools is a fallacy.
Some research has focused on the necessary funding for the broad federalization of education as a result of NCLB. Some studies have focused on the effects of standardized testing on children with disabilities, who are required to meet the same standards as highly capable students. Researchers have also posed the question of whether current testing is fair to minorities. An important question which has not been answered is what effects NCLB and its resultant standardized testing have had on student learning and classroom teaching. These tests place a large amount of pressure on students, they measure only a portion of what a student should learn, they are based on exceedingly high and developmentally inappropriate standards, and they result in an alignment of curriculum to test content.
Most educational experts agree that standardized testing has a legitimate place in assessing student mastery of basic skills. However, most also agree that these tests should not be the only measure of a student’s abilities. By definition, a high-stakes test is one for which the results have important consequences. According to the article “States Stick with High-School Exit Exams” (2003), nineteen states use high school exit exams to determine whether students receive high school diplomas, and five other states will have test-determinant diploma requirements by the year 2008, including the state of Washington. These high-stakes tests negate a student’s attendance in classes and earning the necessary credits for graduation. A USA Today survey reports that 92 percent of teachers surveyed felt that “no single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student’s knowledge” (Prescott, 2001). In his article “The Test of Their Lives,” James S. Kunen (1997) argues that such tests put enormous pressure on students and are of little academic value.
Further, Kunen argues that standardized tests cannot measure much of what makes a student successful: “cooperation, creativity, or the perseverance…to sit down in a two-room shack and do homework every night” (p. 63). Richard Rothstein agrees with Kunen’s insight into the failings of these tests in his article “Testing Our Patience: Standardized Tests Have Their Uses but Current Federal Law Uses Testing to Destroy Learning” (2004). According to Rothstein, standardized tests do not assess “creativity, insight, reasoning, and the application of skills to unrehearsed situations” (p. 45). Alfie Kohn (2000) agrees that the tests “don’t assess the skills and dispositions that matter most” and also argues that such tests “tend to be contrived exercises that measure how much students have managed to cram into short-term memory” (p. 7). The assertion is also made by Kohn that “studies of students of different ages have found a statistical association between high scores on standardized tests and relatively shallow thinking” (p. 10). In other words, not only do the tests not measure critical and analytical thinking, but there is a correlation between high scores on these tests and poor higher-thinking skills. John Taylor Gatto in his article “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” (1992) satirically suggests that “successful children do the thinking” teachers “assign them” and exhibit no independent and original thinking (p. 176).
Rothstein suggests the existence of another problem with NCLB and standardized testing. The law requires that all schools report the percentage of their students at each grade level who achieve proficiency in math and reading; the problem lies in the definition of “proficiency.” NCLB models its definition after the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). However, the NAEP’s level of proficiency is not only based on a subjective judgment of “proficiency” determined by a panel of citizens; it is also greatly flawed, according to the General Accounting Office, which determined that the NAEP based its definition on unreasonably high standards (p. 46). In an interview, Dr. Orlich (2004) agreed with this determination and further noted that the standards are developmentally inappropriate according to a number of developmental theories, including Piaget’s theory of development which is widely accepted by educators as a developmental model.
There is another major flaw with the policy. Kunen, Rothstein, Kohn, and Prescott all expressed concern over the tendency to “teach to the test,” or aligning curriculum taught in the classroom to the content of what is assessed on these tests. Prescott found that 83 percent of public school teachers surveyed said they fear they will end up “teaching to the tests” (p. 21). This manner of teaching focuses on rote learning and repetitive drills rather than on more creative and useful education. So much time is spent on preparing for these assessments, which typically focus on math and reading, that the rest of the curriculum is neglected. As a result, teachers often use the majority of their classroom time preparing students in these academic areas that time devoted to the teaching of other subjects such as science, social studies, and art is diminished. According to Kohn, “the test essentially becomes the curriculum” (p. 29), leaving no room for hands-on and active learning. Class time is also devoted to teaching how to take test. Kohn makes the argument that high test scores are “partly just a function of good test-taking skills” (p. 32). Kohn’s argument nullifies the use of standardized testing as a measure of accountability for schools. Chang Liu, in the article “No Child Left Behind – No, Really” (2004), claims that, under NCLB, teachers undergo “a complete loss of independence” and “the classroom loses all spontaneity and creativity.” A RAND Corporation study (Bach, 2004) found that fourth-grade teachers in Washington state spend two-thirds of their classroom time teaching subjects tested on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
In “Conversion of a Standardized Test Skeptic” (2001), Caroline M. Hoxby offers the perspective of one who originally thought that the financial costs of standardized testing far outweighed the benefits. However, her research led her to change her mind after determining that a full battery of standardized tests costs a school approximately $5.00 per student per annum (p. 83). Hoxby argues that testing is the one aspect of school reform and NCLB with the “highest ratio of benefits to cost” (p. 83). Hoxby’s article does not present any of the benefits she mentions and only makes a strong argument that testing makes sense financially. This monetary aspect is perhaps the least of all arguments against standardized testing. Even so, critics disagree with Hoxby’s conclusion that standardized testing is inexpensive. In their 2001 brochure “Why the WASL is so Awful,” Citizens United for Responsible Education claims that the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is administered at a cost of $27 per student. The WASL costs more than $100 million (Orlich, September 8, 2003). Dr. Hoxby’s article does, however, offer a rationale for NCLB and the requisite testing: the fact that the federal government will not have to spend a considerable amount of money in order to assess whether schools adhere to the new policy.
A Failing Policy
Preliminary research suggests that the concept of high-stakes testing is flawed in a number of ways. The research presented in these articles shows that standardized testing does, indeed, influence student learning and classroom teaching in non-beneficial and often harmful ways. Kunen takes exception to the policy of using a single test to determine whether a student will receive a high school diploma and argues that this type of high-stakes test puts unnecessary pressure on students. Rothstein’s research has shown a tendency of teachers to focus primarily on students who are just below the level of proficiency in order to gain a degree of improvement, which is required by NCLB in its analysis of school performance (p. 44). According to Prescott, our nation’s children are being tested to a degree that is unprecedented in not only our history but anywhere else in the world (p. 20). CNN reports that high-stakes testing has a direct correlation to a higher dropout rate among students. Orlich suggests that the financial costs of certain tests such as the WASL are high.
Most educators and researchers agree that standardized tests are useful tools in assessing student learning and that schools must be held accountable for teaching students successfully. The disagreement lies in the degree of importance placed on standardized tests. The authors are in agreement that any fair accountability system, which is one goal of the No Child Left Behind Act, would rely not only on standardized tests but also on a number of other factors: expert evaluations of schools; reviews of student work and projects; assessments of the quality of teaching and curriculum; and other measures of successful education.
Only Hoxby’s article supports the concept of standardized testing without restriction. As a professor of economics, it is not surprising that her research focuses on the financial costs of these tests and ignores the other costs that result from NCLB. Her point of view, however, introduces the idea of a justification for why the federal government would require standardized testing. Hoxby offers the notion that because the government’s financial contribution to public education is only seven percent of school spending (p.83), the government has, in the past, lacked a means of impacting schools. By requiring schools to prove student proficiency in math and reading in order to avoid consequences for poor performance or to reap rewards for adequate progress, the federal government now affects school policy as never before.
A review of the literature researching the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act suggests a need for further evaluation of the impact of standardized testing on student learning and classroom teaching. It would be beneficial to determine what teachers, as the true observers in this field, believe to be the effects of NCLB and standardized testing in terms of pedagogy (the way teachers teach) and curriculum (what teachers teach). Educators can provide a first-hand perspective not offered by researchers to exemplify the impact of standardized tests on their classrooms and their students.
To determine how teachers evaluate the effects of The No Child Left Behind Act on their classrooms, a survey of twenty-four teachers who began teaching at various grade levels prior to the enactment of NCLB was conducted. An analysis of the surveys provided insight into the effects of NCLB on what is taught in classrooms, how students are taught, and ways that students are impacted from a teacher’s perspective.
Since the scope of the research question goes beyond the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, it was important to conduct the survey outside of the state of Washington in order to determine the effects of NCLB beyond state borders. Teachers from elementary schools and high schools in both Washington and North Carolina were surveyed. In order to determine what changes have resulted from NCLB, it was important to determine which teachers were teaching prior to the implementation of NCLB.
The survey started with some demographic questions to determine how long a respondent has been teaching, what grade level the respondent teaches, and whether the respondent is male or female. These questions provided some background information necessary to analyze the data provided. Teachers who had been teaching for less than three years will not be able to provide insight into changes made in the curriculum and teaching style as a result of NCLB because they were not teaching prior to the implementation of NCLB; while their opinions are valued, their use in this particular research was voided.
Of the twenty-four respondents, half were from Washington and half from North Carolina. Fifteen have been teaching for more than eight years. Ten teach in elementary schools, and fourteen teach in high schools. Nineteen respondents are female, and five are male. According to research, just 21 percent of the nation's three million teachers are men (National Education Association, 2003); the percentage of male and female survey respondents is reflective of that data.
The survey was comprised of two types of questions. A number of statements asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” These statements offered the respondents the chance to voice their thoughts on changes made in the classroom and tenets of NCLB and standardized testing. To provide more detailed information, a number of essay-type questions asked for the respondent’s specific and detailed accounts of changes in the classroom and suggestions for improving the current system of accountability.
The findings of the survey are highly supportive of the thesis that teaching and curriculum is changing in response to NCLB and standardized testing. Nearly 70 percent of responding teachers indicated agreement with the statement that “creativity in my classroom teaching has decreased since No Child Left Behind.”
In contrast, only eight percent agreed that they had “just as much time now as before No Child Left Behind for supplemental activities such as field trips and projects.” Seventy percent of elementary school teachers surveyed disagreed with the statement that they spend as much time now as prior to NCLB on “subjects such as social studies, art, and health.” These subjects are not tested in high-stakes standardized testing. (Secondary teacher responses were eliminated from this question since those educators typically teach one or two core subjects and do not spend time teaching outside of those areas.)
More than 90 percent of respondents indicated a level of agreement with the statement “I have aligned my classroom curriculum to help students prepare for [standardized] tests.” One high school teacher said that she is “much more inclined to teach those ‘test-specific’ skills…than…public speaking or research-based units” since “those skills are not tested on the…exam.” Such alignment of curriculum to test content is known as “teaching to the test,” and is one of the key arguments against high-stakes testing. Many opponents to high-stakes testing, such as Bill Cala, superintendent of Fairport, New York, public schools, believe that valuable tests are ones that are aligned to the curriculum taught in the classroom, not the other way around (Mathews, 2004).
Interestingly, there was a nearly even split over the question of teacher autonomy. Slightly fewer than half of the respondents felt that they “have a high degree of independence and control over the curriculum.”
A significant majority agreed that they have a “clear understanding of what will be covered on applicable accountability tests” and a “clear understanding of the format of applicable accountability tests.” It is important for teachers to be aware of the material and format of high-stakes tests since there is so much at stake for the students taking these exams.
One survey question asked “In what ways has your teaching changed since the implementation of the WASL or end-of-course tests?” Responses to this question provided insight into the question of how NCLB and standardized testing has impacted classroom teaching and curriculum. One teacher answered, “I am frustrated because I feel elementary education should include the arts, creative writing, etc. The majority of our school day is math and reading only now. I worry about children not having a ‘more rounded’ education.” Another teacher responded that “more testing, less learning” are the changes that have resulted. Several of the respondents indicated that they now teach to the format and technique of the test and have given up on more creative means of teaching as they find themselves teaching “specific skills” dictated by the test. One response was that teaching is “geared toward test outcomes – not necessarily what each student should learn.”
One obviously frustrated elementary school teacher provided the following response to the question of how her teaching has changed as a result of the No Child Left Behind Act:
I have had to cut out some of the “fun” activities that reached the students
who were hard to reach. I am teaching skills as mandated but am frustrated
at not having time to alter my curriculum to meet special needs. I’m not
given credit to be able to make professional judgments. The curriculum we
are told to teach takes a vast amount of preparation…pushing higher
standards is great for high achievers but those who are not ready are having
more headaches and stress.
This brings up the issue that many opponents of tests such as the WASL and North Carolina end-of-course tests have voiced: students at all levels of educational achievement are required to reach the same standards. High-achieving students and special education students are required to attain the same level of proficiency under NCLB. “It is impossible to take a heterogeneous group of students and make them ‘conform’ to one standard,” argued one teacher. A second teacher worried that “a student who is below level may not be able to achieve grade level because of many factors.” Research supports this argument. Poverty alone has a strong negative impact on student achievement. A strong correlation between minority groups and poor performance exists, particularly for students whose primary language is not English (Orlich & Gifford, 2004). Students are held accountable for circumstances over which they have no control. A teacher of “highly capable” students provides insight into the other end of the spectrum: testing “does not go far enough for the highly capable students…that is where accountability tests fall short.”
Another concern teachers expressed was the additional stress placed on themselves and their students as a result of the implementation of accountability tests. Only one of the twenty-four respondents disagreed with the statement that one effect of testing is “added pressure” on teachers. One secondary school teacher wrote that she gets “very sick the week before the test every year.” Another respondent lamented that “this…pressure takes some of the enjoyment of the job.” No teachers disagreed with the statement that their “students feel added pressure.” The teacher quoted above referred to “more headaches and stress” felt by less able students. David Shapiro (2001) reports that teachers have seen their students become “more anxious and less likely to take intellectual risks” (p. 15). Stress such as this is not healthy for either students or teachers.
Several respondents expressed misgivings about the NCLB provision of adequate yearly progress. Schools are required to demonstrate a certain degree of improvement in proficiency from one year to the next. Many teachers would prefer to have growth measured in terms of individual progress by comparing a student’s test results from the start of the school year with that same student’s test results from the end of the academic year. Several respondents wondered how progress can be compared from one year to the next when there are so many variables like changing student populations and different tests each year.
The survey and a more comprehensive breakdown of the survey results are provided in the appendix. Strong tendencies of agreement support the argument that the No Child Left Behind Act has impacted teaching on many fronts: creativity and supplemental activities; non-tested subject areas; alignment of curriculum to tests; altered teaching techniques; teacher autonomy; and stress levels.
If the goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is truly to leave no child behind in education, changes must be made in the policy. Nearly half of school principals and superintendents think NCLB is “either politically motivated or aimed at undermining public schools” (Rebora, 2004); with the lack of support at this level, NCLB is likely to fail in its ambitious goals.
In addition to the lack of support at the administrative level, education experts overwhelmingly agree that no single test is valid for all purposes. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning and the North Carolina end-of-course exams are used for numerous purposes. Each of these high-stakes tests is utilized to measure the performance of students, teachers, and schools and serves as the NCLB accountability measure. Based on the premise that a valid test can have only one purpose (Orlich, personal communication, June 1, 2004), much high-stakes testing is invalid. The Washington Education Association maintains that the WASL is not valid or reliable as an assessment tool (Orlich & Gifford, 2004).
The American Psychological Association (APA) has developed guidelines for the appropriate use of high-stakes tests. The APA determined that a “single test can only provide a ‘snapshot’ of student achievement and may not accurately reflect an entire year’s worth of students progress and achievement” (“Appropriate Use of High-Stakes Testing in Our Nation’s Schools,” 2001). One of the survey respondents offered this support: “Passing or failing should not be limited to 100 minutes, 72 questions, on a certain day…Too many outside influences work with or against [students] with regard to testing.” Many researchers and educational experts agree that educational decisions such as graduation and retention should be based on a number of factors, including standardized test results. However, high-stakes testing that occurs nationwide as a result of NCLB goes against this recommendation by basing graduation or grade-level promotion on a single test.
Many of the teachers who participated in the survey offered suggestions for improving the current method of measuring student learning and teacher and school accountability:
Parent and student surveys
Portfolios of student and teacher work
Self-assessments, reflections, and journals
The current system of reform assures that most children will be left behind as our nation’s students are provided with an education based on a narrowed curriculum and lack of critical thinking . The question of how to improve our schools and education system must be answered in order that no child be left behind. What does work for students are smaller class sizes, the use of science and math manipulatives, inquiry-based and hands-on learning, and tutoring (Orlich, personal communication, June 1, 2004). All of these measures require federal and state funding. According to Dr. Orlich, $180 million was spent on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (Orlich, personal communication, June 1, 2004). That money would have had a more significant impact on our students by being used directly in our classrooms.
The words of 2001 Teacher of the Year Michele Forman offer a final thought: “If anything concerns me, it’s the oversimplification of something as complex as assessment. My fear is that learning is becoming standardized. Learning is idiosyncratic. Learning and teaching is messy stuff. It doesn’t fit into bubbles.”
(2001, May). How should student learning and achievement be measured? Retrieved April 20, 2004, from http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/testing.htm
Bach, D. (2004, March 4). Standards-based focus to schooling gets a failing grade. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved May 27, 2004, from http://www.seattlepi/nwsource.com
Citizens United for Responsible Education. (2001). Why the WASL is so awful. (brochure)
Gatto, J.T. (1992). The seven-lesson schoolteacher. In G. Colombo, R. Cullen., & B. Lisle (Ed.), Rereading America: Cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing (pp. 173-180). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Hoxby, C. (2001). Conversion of a standardized test skeptic. Reason, 33(4)83. Retrieved April 27, 2004, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A77010134).
Kohn, A. (2000). The case against standardized testing: Raising the scores, ruining the schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Kunen, J. (1997). The test of their lives. Time, 149(24)62-64. Retrieved April 12, 2004, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A19480430).
Liu, C. (2004, March 18). No child left behind – no, really. The Harvard Independent. Retrieved April 20, 2004, from http://www.harvardindependent.com
Mathews, J. (2004, June 1). Superintendent debate: Do we need big tests? The Washington Post. Retrieved June 1, 2004, from http://www.washingtonpost.com
No child left behind act. Retrieved May 27, 2004, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/new/reports/no-child-left-behind.pdf
Orlich, D. (2003). Surprise: American schools may just be world-class. (report)
Orlich, D. (2003, September 8). WASL examinations flunk on many levels. The Spokesman-Review, page A13.
Orlich, D. (2004, January 1). Professor Emeritus, Washington State University. Interview.
Orlich, D., & Gifford, G. (2004, Spring). High-stakes tests: What do they tell us? Washington State Magazine, 3(2)8-9.
Prescott, J. (2001). Put to the test. Instructor, 111(3)20+. Retrieved April 27, 2004, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A79210420).
Rebora, A. (2004, April 21). No child left behind. Retrieved May 27, 2004, from http://www.edweek.org/context/topics/issuespage.cfm?id=59
Rothstein, R. (2004). Testing our patience: Standardized tests have their uses but current federal law uses testing to destroy learning. The American Prospect, 15(2)45-48. Retrieved April 12, 2004, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A112942247).
Shapiro, D. (2001). Will this be on the test? Sojourners, 30(5)15. Retrieved April 27, 2004, from Expanded Academic ASAP database (A78168362).
States stick with high-school exit exams. (2003, April 13). Retrieved April 14, 2004, from http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/08/13/high.school.exams.ap/
Suter, L. (1996). Indicators of science and mathematics education 1995. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (1998). Linking the national assessment of educational progress and the third international mathematics and science study: Eighth grade results. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Wanted: More male teachers. Retrieved May 27, 2004, from http://www.nea.org/teachershortage/03malefactsheet.html
Young, S. (2004, March 10). No child left behind act of 2001. Retrieved April 14, 2004, from http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/NCLBHistory.htm
Teacher Survey on the Impact of The No Child Left Behind Act
This survey is being conducted for a “Writing in the Social Sciences” course. As a future teacher, I am very much interested in how your teaching has changed under the influence of The No Child Left Behind Act and other educational reforms. The focus of my research is on determining how high stakes tests (standardized tests with important consequences) and other facets of the No Child Left Behind Act have influenced curriculum and pedagogy (manner of teaching and adapting teaching to the individual learner). Your participation in this survey is completely optional and absolutely anonymous. I will not ask for your name and, in fact, request that you not provide it or any other identifying information. Thank you in advance for your help. I appreciate your participation.
Summary of Survey Results
1. How long have you been teaching?
______This is my first year.
______One to three years - 3 respondents
______Three to five years - 3 respondents
______Five to eight years - 3 respondents
______Eight to twelve years - 6 respondents
______More than twelve years - 9 respondents
2. What grade level do you teach?
______Kindergarten through 3rd grade - 5 respondents
______4th through 6th grade - 5 respondents
______Middle School (Which grades & subjects:_______________________)
______Junior High (Which grades & subjects:_______________________)
______High School (Which grades & subjects:_______________________)
-14 respondents (subjects taught include math, English,
chemistry, business, social studies, physical education,
3. Does your state mandate any form of accountability test for your grade or course(s) you teach?
______Yes - 17 ______No -7 ______Not sure
4. What is your gender? ______Female -19 ______Male - 5
5. Were you teaching prior to any high stakes testing, such as the WASL (for Washington state teachers) and end-of-course tests (for North Carolina teachers)?
______Yes -13 ______No -10 ______Not sure -1
6. If you answered yes to question #5, in what ways has your teaching changed since the implementation of the WASL or end-of-course tests? Please consider in your answer ways your teaching style has changed, changes in the curriculum, and changes in the ways students are being asked to learn.
Answers varied; some are quoted in text of paper
7. Please indicate by circling the appropriate response whether you strongly agree (SA), agree (A), neither agree nor disagree (N), disagree (D), or strongly disagree (SD) with the following statements. If you have been teaching for less than three years, some of the questions may not apply to you. In that case, please indicate the response “not applicable” (NA).
Standardized tests are a useful tool in assessing student learning.
SA-1 A-16 N-3 D-2 SD-2 NA
Tests such as the WASL in Washington State and the TAAS in Texas are a fair requirement for students to receive a high school diploma.
SA A-3 N-7 D-4 SD-3 NA-7
Creativity in my classroom teaching has decreased since No Child Left Behind.
SA-8 A-8 N-1 D-4 SD-7 NA
Teacher pay should be based partly on the results of student standardized testing
SA A-5 N-2 D-4 SD-13 NA
I have just as much time now as before No Child Left Behind for supplemental activities such as field trips and projects.
SA A-2 N-1 D-8 SD-11 NA-2
The WASL and end-of-course tests are just as applicable for students with learning disabilities as for highly-capable students.
SA A-2 N D-11 SD-9 NA-2
All students should be held to the same standards in order to “level the playing field.”
SA A-5 N-2 D-6 SD-11 NA
I spend as much time now as before No Child Left Behind on subjects such as social studies, art, and health. If you are a secondary teacher, this may not apply.
SA-1 A-2 N-2 D-3 SD-5 NA-11
Schools should be held accountable for educating students and standardized tests are a good means of measuring this accountability.
SA A-7 N-8 D-8 SD-1 NA
I have aligned my classroom curriculum to help students prepare for such tests.
SA-10 A-12 N-1 D-1 SD NA
I have changed my teaching techniques in order to prepare students for these tests.
SA-5 A-14 N-1 D-1 SD NA
Requiring exit tests as a graduation requirement will increase the student drop-out rate.
SA-5 A-10 N-3 D-2 SD-3 NA
I have a high degree of independence and control over the curriculum I teach.
SA-2 A-6 N-3 D-7 SD-6 NA
I have a clear understanding of what will be covered on applicable accountability tests.
SA-5 A-8 N-6 D-4 SD-1 NA
I have a clear understanding of the format of applicable accountability tests.
SA-5 A-12 N-5 D-3 SD NA
I feel added pressure due to the implementation of accountability tests.
SA-10 A-13 N D-1 SD NA
My students feel added pressure due to the implementation of accountability tests.
SA-8 A-14 N-1 D SD NA-1
8. In what ways do you think the current system of measuring student learning could be improved?
9. If you agree that schools and teachers should be held accountable for educating students, what suggestions do you have for the fairness and accuracy of measuring such accountability?
10. Is there any other information which you think would be helpful for my research paper? Please include any comments or explanations you would like to add to your responses to the statements in question #7.
Note: Answers to survey questions 8, 9, and 10 varied; some answers were provided as quotations within the body of the paper.