November 26, 2003, Extra Credit
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November 26, 2003
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 November 25
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Testing Questions And Answers

Q: Some say the regular assessments required by No Child Left Behind will cause teachers to teach to the test. Is that true?

A: State assessments are expected to measure how well students meet the state's academic standards, which define what students should know and be able to do in different subject areas at different grade levels. Under the previous reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1994, states were required to develop or adopt standards in mathematics and in reading or language arts; No Child Left Behind requires states to do the same with science standards by 2006. Curriculum based on state standards should be taught in the classroom. If teachers cover subject matter required by the standards and teach it well, then students will master the material on which they will be tested--and probably much more. In that case, students will need no special test preparation in order to do well.

Q. Nevertheless, state assessments sound like they could take a lot of time and effort. What will be gained?

A. The point of state assessments is to measure student learning. A key principle of quality management is the importance of measuring what is valued (e.g., production rates; costs of materials, etc.). Such measures enable an organization to identify where and how to improve operations. In the same manner, if schools and school systems are to continuously improve, they must measure growth in student achievement. After all, the core of all activity in schools and school systems is teaching and learning, and the key question is: Are the students learning?


About Extra Credit
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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Last Modified: 12/02/2003