Good a time as any to point out that many of the problems people now ascribe to No Child Left Behind were around long before the law…states still had different definitions of proficiency, low-income schools were not bastions of rich learning, music, art, and field trips, and outcomes were still poor. Worth remembering as the No Child debate heats up.
Also, as good a time as any to read what is still an outstanding and relevant Washington Monthly article by Georgia N. Alexakis:
Yet for all the noise these activists have made about [Massachusetts statewide tests], when pressed to show some evidence that suburban students are really suffering, they come up empty.
In other words, beware the anecdotes and context/history devoid claims that too often pass for data points in this debate. Even the otherwise fabulous Eduwonkette somewhat falls prey here…not to say there aren’t problems, but perspective matters. One could reasonably be very concerned that schools can’t get over what is often a pretty low bar…rather than concerned about the bar.