Would national standards fix NCLB?
There's an interesting article in Slate this week outlining a series of ideas about how to fix No Child Left Behind. The article isn't as radical as another published this winter in The Atlantic called "First, Kill All the School Boards." But both make the case for national standards and exams as a way of reforming NCLB.
The law in its current form allows states to create their own standards to measure and their own standardized tests. As a result, the authors argue, there's incentive to water down the standards and the exams so that all children can meet the goal of proficiency, and it's unfair to compare states against each other.
I think some of Slate's recommendations would be widely welcomed among the educators I know: administering fewer tests, placing more emphasis on science and social studies, paying teachers more. Others, like creating a system of ranking schools, seem more controversial. And The Atlantic's idea of scrapping local control of education altogether is clearly out of the realm of possibility.
So how to keep the ideal that all schools will be held accountable no child will be left behind while ridding the federal law of its many problematic components? There aren't any obvious answers. But in a year when reauthorization has been put on hold so as not to create waves in the presidential election, it's nice to at least see people throwing out ideas.