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Nation Moving Toward More Standardization of School Policy

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Nation Moving Toward More

Standardization of School Policy

By Linda Dobson

standardization of school policy

Sometimes, education news makes me cringe, and this announcement titled “States Considering Bills that Would Make Kids Repeat Third Grade for Failing Reading Tests,” more standardization of school policy, is one of those times.

So far, Oklahoma, Arizona and Indiana have already passed laws. Currently, Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, and Tennessee are considering the same. Since four of these states (CO, IN, OK, TN) have received the coveted waiver from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Law. New Mexico’s request for waiver was denied, but they’re re-working their paperwork in hopes of being pardoned, too. It’s probably a good guess that receiving the waiver requires passage of the same law. (If anyone knows differently, I’d love to hear from you.)

Standardization of School Policy Hurts

One of the worst aspects (one of many horrendous aspects) of NCLB is its reliance on – no,, make that demand for – all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Forget about what bright light bulb came up with that in the first place, the bigger question is what makes anyone think turning a goal applied to every single school child in America into a law will somehow magically make it so?

And now…another inane law applied across the board to every single school child in America; you will do well on your third grade reading test or else. Or else what? You will automatically be held back. How will this help? Well, here’s one study’s take on the subject:

Chicago made national headlines in the late 1990s by holding back tens of thousands of students who were deficient in math and reading. But a series of studies by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago found that, in general, retained students did no better in later years than students who had nearly identical academic achievement but were promoted. Retained students also were more likely to have dropped out.

It’s a ludicrous idea at conception, let alone in practice. Additional standardization of school policy hurts children. It always has, it always will. All children are different. The one who reads at age four isn’t better than the one who reads at age seven who isn’t better than the one who reads at age nine. All children are different. You’d think these people coming up with such mandates had never seen a child in their lives! And if they have, why do they still insist on treating them like factory line widgets that are manufactured and cleaned up for packaging at just the same time as all the others?

Standardization of School Policy Won’t Fix the Problem

Passing laws about when every child passes a reading test isn’t going to help children any more than denying them access to bathrooms is going to help. (See Latest Student Torture: The No Pissing Contest.) Neither act has anything to do with educating kids, and everything to do with controlling them. And you know what? The kids aren’t the ones with the problem.

All the bills, as well as similar ones passed recently in Oklahoma, Arizona and Indiana, aim to address literacy deficiencies that exist nationwide. Only one third of US schoolchildren had proficient scores on the most recent national reading exam, and scores have barely budged in two decades.

The kids don’t have a learning problem. This country has a schooling problem. And until the powers-that-be realize – or admit – that schooling has absolutely positively nothing to do with education, kids sitting in those schools will continue to be treated as universal, replaceable, disposable widgets instead of young unique individuals.

That’s what there should be a law against.

 

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