Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bush education policy to miss goals: Harvard study

Bush education policy to miss goals: Harvard study - Reuters

No one should be surprised that the experts from Harvard now say that No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is on its way to being a grand failure. The big question is what will we now do with this information? However promising a program might seem, when it does not work, in the case of NCLB, it should be rationed and replaced with something better informed and with more promise.

It does not take a Harvard Ph.D. to know that it is grossly inefficient to try to improve learning by better exit testing, at any level. This was the whole point of Deming and Juran, the management experts responsible for transforming Japan’s industry after WWII. Quality education, like production, must be designed into curriculums from the start.

This does not mean we should not test. More simply it means that better testing of an inherently poor system only raises the confidence in measuring broken processes. Perhaps the educators are getting better at giving tests, but kids are not performing any better because the federal government is looking over the shoulders of school districts.

Furthermore, the performance gap of Blacks and Hispanics, relative to Whites and Asians is not closing. It is perplexing that anyone could believe that testing would identify and solve the disparity that plagues modern education achievement and, with it, our society.

To be fair, NCLB is not a total failure. It reveals and marginally challenges the lack of confidence the electorate has in our educators. This is the result of their willingness to promote students who cannot deliver minimal skills for contributing to their own lives and those of their fellow citizens. NCLB as a ‘quick and dirty’ program of accounting is necessary, but certainly not sufficient to our needs.

There will be those who want to hold on to the grandiose promise of NCLB, as ineffective as it is, because they cannot separate the objective from the process of trying to achieve it. Such is the sad case of Affirmative Action, whereby the goal of helping disadvantaged people sits ‘played-out’ by more than 40 years of a divisive and counter-intuitive implementation.

James C. Collier


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

No comments: