With the evolution of mankind and the constant advancement in technology, there should be a match in education system. What I mean by this is that the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 has caused the regression of intelligence and stagnation of education in the United States. This is identified in a multitude of ways by philosophers throughout the ages, great scientific minds of their time, and even the great minds of today that shape the future that is our children.
Bell Hooks views children as organically predisposed to be critical thinkers. Always wanting to ask questions and demanding knowledge like there is a need for it, a craving. Yet the United States has established “The NCLB law—which grew out of concern that the American education system was no longer internationally competitive” (Klein 2018). This already starts off with the idea about international competition and the benefit of the United States’ appearance with the rest of the world, not the well being of the children and the advancement of true learning and education, nor taking into consideration their creativity and craving for knowledge. People for the bill could pose the cherishing of the law as a blessing due to “…special focus on ensuring that states and schools boost the performance of certain groups of students, such as English-language learners, students in special education, and poor and minority children, whose achievement, on average, trails their peers” (Klein 2018), which is a fine sentiment at its base, however, accomplishing this through ‘standardized testing’ is dogmatic thinking at its core. Furthermore, “…its emphasis on math and reading tests has narrowed the curriculum, forcing schools to spend less time on subjects that aren’t explicitly tested, like social studies, foreign language, and the arts” (Klein 2018). This aligns with Kenneth Robinson’s idea that children do not grow into creativity, but out of it, due to the martyrdom of making a mistake and how it learned to be terrifying.
For one to think dogmatically, involves thinking that is barrow minded and do not consider opposing viewpoints or opposition. This form of standardized testing is in complete opposition to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. Multiple intelligence “…first proposed by the psychologist Howard Gardner in his book Frames of Mind (1983)” (Nuzzi) had a base eight different intelligence categories of Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalistic. These expand the way that people can be successful in the real world. However, they all are not necessarily so easy to put into a standardized test as logistical and linguistic intelligence. This also leads to an idea that standardized tests are not always the best way to measure results either, “because standardized tests are so focused on the scholastic intelligences, they can reasonably predict future success in school. Real-world success, however, encompasses much more than skill in the linguistic and logical-mathematical arenas. Therefore, that same focus means standardized tests offer little useful predictive information about success in life” (Hoerr). A person may be a quite adept at trigonometry, however, if he is bodily-kinesthetically inept or does not have the time to think or calculate, it will be very difficult for him to make a three point shot as a basketball player. But on a piece of paper he would have no problem and would make the shot easily.
“Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray argued, that standardized tests are still needed, noting that tests can hold states accountable when it comes to teaching the most disadvantaged kids” (Resmovits, 2015). Meanwhile, Carol Burris — a high school principal of the year in New York who opposes many Republican education policies — that was sent in response to his bill. “The unintended, negative consequences that have arisen from mandated, annual testing and its high-stakes uses have proven testing not only to be an ineffective tool, but a destructive one as well” (Resmovits, 2015). Now if something is needed, it is significant or necessary even. However, if a tool is ineffective, it would be considered not significant or unwanted. Thus, needed and ineffective would be opposing terms. Something cannot be significant and not significant at the same time. Anyone who is a critical thinker would know that this is irrational and incoherent. This is dogmatic thinking at its very essence. Determining which one is right, and which one is wrong is vital here. Gathering other perspectives tell us: “Historian Diane Ravitch and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, say the requirement’s deleterious effects are far worse: they unfairly penalize poor students; they reduce children to the sum of a single score; and they discourage teacher creativity” (Resmovits, 2015). Gathering more people that say no to standardized testing can be dismissed as an appeal to popularity fallacy, after all, having more people on your side does not necessarily mean correctness of information. This was the same reasoning for why it was accepted to have black slavery in the United States up until 1865. However, just dismissing this case based on such a fallacy could also be a hasty generalization, or a fallacy based on insufficient information. So some statistical analysis is pertinent in this context.
“The average performance of the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders mostly held steady in math and reading from 2015 to 2017, now marking a decade of stalled educational progress” (Barshay 2019). If something is stalled, that means there is a stop in progress. This stop in progress is in reference current educational system of its student body in a decade of time nationwide. A more blunt way to put this is, education has not gotten better in ten years! This would not be a problem if the stalling in educational progress was nearly one hundred percent of all students in all current educational. However, “average students’ scores remain well below what test overseers consider to be proficient for each grade level. In reading, 37% of fourth-graders and 36% of eighth-graders were proficient. In math, 40% of fourth-graders and 33% of eighth-graders hit this threshold” (Barshay, 2019). For a person to be considered ‘proficient’, they must be anywhere from competent to skilled in a subject matter. These fourth and eighth graders are scoring forty percent or lower in all subjects being tested. From a collegiate grading standpoint, anything under a seventy percent is failing. This would put sixty percent or greater of the nation of fourth and eighth graders as failures dependent on the subject. This is the future of our society and somehow by our own standards they are currently on a path to fail or already considered failures. “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” (Einstein, Albert).
With changes in our rising population size we have blossomed through the green revolution to meet rising consumption demands. If we had not, portions of the population would have starved. So I challenge that we too should evolve to a greater and different form of curriculum to meet our growing educational needs and diversity, or we will starve future generations of the true learning they need and crave. The Every Student Success Act passed in 2015 pulled back on much of the government interaction on state affairs of grading and funding. However, there is still a significant contribution toward standardized testing. This is a step in the right direction, but significant strides need to be made in a different, more progressive, and original way toward acknowledging and structuring for different and multiple intelligences. Creativity needs to be maintained and flourished for greater critical thinking challenges that will arise in the future, and so no child needs to feel as though they are a stupid fish trying to climb a tree.
- Klein, Alyson. “No Child Left Behind Overview: Definitions, Requirements, Criticisms, and More.” Education Week, 25 Oct. 2018, www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/no-child-left-behind-overview-definition-summary.html
- Nuzzi, Ronald J. “Multiple Intelligences.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/science/multiple-intelligences.
- Hoerr, Thomas R. Ascd. “Chapter 1. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, www.ascd.org/publications/books/100006/chapters/The-Theory-of-Multiple-Intelligences.aspx.
- Resmovits, Joy “Liberal Advocates Are Aligning With Congressional Republicans On This Education Issue.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 21 Jan. 2015, www.huffpost.com/entry/standardized-testing-no-child-left-behind_n_6517102.
- Barshay, Jill “National Test Scores Reveal a Decade of Educational Stagnation.” The Hechinger Report, 13 Apr. 2019, hechingerreport.org/national-test-scores-reveal-a-decade-of-educational-stagnation/.