The following are excerpts from a recent Op-ed in The Patriot-News (PA) by Villanova University professor Colleen Sheehan, chair of the Pennsylvania No Child Left Behind Coalition, explaining why testing is a vital component of accountability:
"Television ads airing recently in Pennsylvania criticize President Bush's education plan, No Child Left Behind, which works to ensure all children receive the skills necessary to compete in this fast-paced world. These ads depict one teacher complaining about the standardized testing involved. These complaints lead to the assertion that testing is the crux of the entire NCLB program."
"NCLB is not all about the testing, but because it has received so much bad publicity from this ad and elsewhere, I want to respond. Testing is a necessary foundation to build a better education system. ... It is the job of educators to evaluate their learning so students can improve, and by doing so, educators themselves will improve. It is called accountability. Education works this way, just as other tasks and jobs do. If we really care about our students, we will not only challenge them to be accountable for learning the material assigned, but we also will hold ourselves accountable to the learning standards we set. It is common sense, and it makes good sense."
"Our students have a right to know what kind of education they are receiving so, as they enter the workforce, they can compete and meet high standards. Parents have a right to know how their children and teachers are performing."
"Anyone who pays taxes supports the education system, so the entire community has a right to know how its schools are stacking up. Ultimately, the only way to know whether children are learning is to measure, and measure regularly. NOT ONLY does testing empower all of us to raise the bar on the education system, it also gets parents involved in schools, produces a public report card of accountability and brings unity, purpose and focus to teachers. They feel a greater desire to work together to make certain all children receive the same excellent education statewide."
"Ultimately No Child Left Behind helps channel funds and resources to our children who need them most. Excuses about our children's education are no longer acceptable under the NCLB program. Now is the time to raise the bar on education. We need to give our children the education they deserve and do so with the proper preparatory measures."
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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.
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