I will continue my discussion of the No Child Left Behind Educational policy, to see the first part of my discussion click here!
While this policy’s goal of getting every student reading at or above grade level by the third grade at the end of 12 years sounds like a great idea, it just wasn’t and isn’t feasible! This policy in no way takes into account students who cannot possibly meet this feat. Specifically I am talking about special needs children. I know the reality of this type of situation all too well. Growing up with a brother with severe learning, speech and reading disabilities has shown me this aspect of the current educational system we operate under. Standardized testing, it was the E.O.G.s for us living in North Carolina, were the bane of both my brother and I’s existence, but in very different ways. In an earlier post, I discussed my personal experiences with the E.O.G.s, linked here. But in this blog post I want to discuss the experiences my brother had under No Child Left Behind.
First of all, every single year, teachers and principals would try to convince my parents that they needed to pull out my brother so that he wouldn’t bring the school’s test scores down. My parents insisted (and rightfully so) that he was going to get the same education that everyone else got and he deserved it just as much as any other child at our school. Throughout the entire school year my brother was given test prep after test prep (more extensive than the normal amount of test prep every other student received) because his teachers said there was “no way he’d pass.” Now you need to understand, my brother is seriously the hardest working person I’ve ever met, so it wasn’t like he wasn’t trying? He just couldn’t understand the material on the tests.
The End-of-Grade tests made both my brother and me nervous wrecks. But for him, it was especially nerve wracking because honestly, he just didn’t want to deal with feeling like he disappointed his teachers once again. (How can you be disappointed in a kid who tries so hard? I have no idea) Almost every year except for one, my brother didn’t pass the tests. This was no surprise, we all knew it was coming. But here comes the ridiculous part: every year he had to retake them a few weeks later with no extra preparation. Now this may sound like it is somewhat reasonable, but without fail my brother had to sit through those all-day-tests while every other kid in the school got to have field day and end of the year parties. It was like some kind of punishment! Even with the retakes he didn’t pass, which is also not surprising because he wasn’t given any additional preparation to get him ready for the retake.
This is just one person’s experience that I can call upon, but I am sure that there are so many more of these test experiences similar to my brothers. It was absolutely impossible for every student, in every school, in every district within every state to be at or above grade level because students like my brother and other special ed students weren’t taken into account when this policy was made. As a nation, we need to get out of the rut of bad policies like No Child Left Behind, because in reality, this policy left so many behind.