The Unintended Dark Side of Testing Kids

Roundup: Rep. George Miller, a force behind the No Child Left Behind legislation, says he never anticipated the landmark education law would ignite a testing obsession.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 02: House Committee on Education and the Workforce Raning Member Rep. George Miller (D-CA) talks with children from the Head Start program at the Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center during a rally to call for an end to the partial federal government shut down and fund the comprehensive education, health and nutrition service for low-income children and their families outside the U.S. Capitol October 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. The federal government is in the second day of a partial shutdown after House Republicans and Senate Democrats refused to agree on a budget. 
National Journal
Jody Brannon
Add to Briefcase
Jody Brannon
Feb. 3, 2014, 3:56 a.m.

The Next Amer­ica pro­duces a weekly roundup of edu­ca­tion stor­ies rel­ev­ant to di­versity. These stor­ies date from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2.

NCLB COAU­THOR: I NEV­ER THOUGHT LAW WOULD FORCE TEST­ING OB­SES­SION. Rep. George Miller, D-Cal­if., a lead­ing ar­chi­tect of the No Child Left Be­hind le­gis­la­tion, says he nev­er an­ti­cip­ated that the land­mark edu­ca­tion law would ig­nite the test­ing ob­ses­sion that en­gulfed the na­tion’s schools, lead­ing to what some have charged is a simplist­ic “drill and kill” ap­proach that sub­verts real in­struc­tion. Ed­Source in­ter­views the con­gress­man, who rep­res­ents a ma­jor­ity-minor­ity dis­trict in Con­tra Coast County. Hechinger Re­port

Also on Hechinger Re­port


NEW PROBES TAR­GET FIRMS OWN­ING FOR-PROFIT COL­LEGES. Probes of com­pan­ies op­er­at­ing for-profit col­leges by more than a dozen state at­tor­neys gen­er­al may give pause to po­ten­tial stu­dents or in­vestors, but one ana­lyst says the big­ger con­cern is in­creased fed­er­al scru­tiny. Chron­icle of Edu­ca­tion

  • ‘I Feel Like I Was Set Up to Fail’: In­side a For-Profit Col­lege Night­mare. Salon
  • Cours­era Joins Found­a­tion to Of­fer MOOCs in Span­ish. Chron­icle of Edu­ca­tion


STEEP TEXT­BOOK COSTS UN­DER SCRU­TINY. With the av­er­age col­lege stu­dent pay­ing about $1,200 a year on books and sup­plies, an ad­vocacy group Is in­vest­ig­at­ing why some texts cost as much as $200 each and why book costs have climbed 82 per­cent — nearly three times the rate of in­fla­tion — since 2002. NBC News

STUDY: HIGH LEVEL OF ‘FOOD IN­SEC­UR­ITY’ NOTED AMONG COL­LEGI­ANS. A start­ling 59 per­cent of col­lege stu­dents at an Ore­gon uni­versity were “food in­sec­ure” dur­ing the school year, with pos­sible im­plic­a­tions for aca­dem­ic suc­cess, phys­ic­al and emo­tion­al health, and oth­er is­sues. Con­trary to con­cerns about obesity and “the fresh­man 15,” many stu­dents do not get enough healthy food be­cause of high costs and few­er food or so­cial-sup­port sys­tems. Act­iv­ist Post

FOR HB­CUs, THE PROOF IS IN THE PRO­DUCTIV­ITY. Nearly half of the top 25 U.S. in­sti­tu­tions that pro­duce even­tu­al black doc­tor­al gradu­ates are his­tor­ic­ally black. Huff­ing­ton Post


IN STATE OF THE UNI­ON, OBAMA SELLS RACE TO TOP, EARLY-CHILD­HOOD EDU­CA­TION. Pres­id­ent Obama placed edu­ca­tion at the cen­ter of a broad strategy to bol­ster eco­nom­ic mo­bil­ity and com­bat poverty — call­ing on Con­gress in his State of the Uni­on speech to ap­prove pre­vi­ously un­veiled ini­ti­at­ives to ex­pand preschool to more 4-year-olds, beef up job-train­ing pro­grams, and make post­sec­ond­ary edu­ca­tion more ef­fect­ive and ac­cess­ible. Edu­ca­tion Week

WHY MORE IN­FORM­A­TION MAY NOT GREATLY HELP GRAD RATES. To try to pre­vent stu­dents from drop­ping out or as­sum­ing too much in loans, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced many tools to give pro­spect­ive stu­dents more in­form­a­tion, but some ob­serv­ers claim that may not help stu­dents very much. Chron­icle of High­er Edu­ca­tion


STUDY: READ­ING GAP WIDENS BETWEEN WEALTHY, POOR STU­DENTS. The dif­fer­ence in read­ing pro­fi­ciency between lower- and high­er-in­come fourth-graders has grown by 20 per­cent in the past dec­ade, says a re­port by the An­nie E. Ca­sey Found­a­tion. Eighty per­cent of lower-in­come fourth-graders do not read at their grade level, com­pared with 49 per­cent of their wealth­i­er coun­ter­parts, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. NBC News

A THIRD OF WORLD’S SCHOOL KIDS NOT LEARN­ING THE BA­SICS. About 250 mil­lion school-age chil­dren world­wide can’t read, write, or do ba­sic math, al­though 130 mil­lion of them are en­rolled in school, a UN­ESCO re­port says. New States­man

IN­TENS­IVE SMALL-GROUP TU­TOR­ING, COUN­SEL­ING HELPS STRUG­GLING STU­DENTS. Half of all black eighth-grade boys have not mastered the most ba­sic math skills that edu­cat­ors con­sider es­sen­tial for their grade level, a study of fed­er­al test res­ults shows, but an ap­proach that in­cludes in­tense ment­or­ing and be­ha­vi­or­al coun­sel­ing has shown good res­ults. New York Times

PLAN WOULD TRACK STU­DENTS FROM PRESCHOOL TO WORK­FORCE. The New York state edu­ca­tion de­part­ment is cre­at­ing a sys­tem to share stu­dent data with col­leges and some oth­er state agen­cies so that New York­ers can be tracked from preschool to col­lege to the work­force and, po­ten­tially, “throughout their lives.” Westchester County (N.Y.) Journ­al via USA Today

CAN THE RACE PROB­LEM IN DIS­CIP­LIN­ING AT AMER­ICA’S SCHOOLS BE FIXED? Na­tion­wide data from the Of­fice for Civil Rights found that black and Latino stu­dents are more likely than their white peers to re­ceive harsh­er pun­ish­ments for the same type of be­ha­vi­or, and a new fed­er­al re­port has offered four solu­tions to ad­dress dis­crep­an­cies in dis­cip­lin­ary policies. Rolling Stone


CALI­FOR­NIA VOTERS TO RE­VIS­IT AF­FIRM­AT­IVE AC­TION. Un­der a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment that passed the Cali­for­nia state Sen­ate on Thursday, voters would re­con­sider af­firm­at­ive-ac­tion pro­grams at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia and Cali­for­nia State Uni­versity sys­tems on the Novem­ber bal­lot. SCA5, in place since 1996, made Cali­for­nia the first state to ban the use of race and eth­ni­city in pub­lic-uni­versity ad­mis­sions as well as state hir­ing and con­tract­ing. Di­verse Is­sues in High­er Edu­ca­tion

LAND­MARK CALI­FOR­NIA TRI­AL IS DE­BAT­ING WHETH­ER TEACH­ER-PRO­TEC­TION LAWS FAIL STU­DENTS. In the much-an­ti­cip­ated Ver­gara v. State of Cali­for­nia tri­al, nine stu­dents from Los Angeles Uni­fied, Oak­land Uni­fied, and three oth­er dis­tricts are chal­len­ging long-stand­ing leg­al pro­tec­tions that their at­tor­neys say lead to hir­ing and keep­ing “grossly in­ef­fect­ive teach­ers.” Ed­Source

MAS­SACHU­SETTS LEADS NINE-STATE EF­FORT TO MEAS­URE WHAT STU­DENTS LEARN IN COL­LEGE. State high­er-edu­ca­tion of­fi­cials de­tailed a new pro­ject in which Mas­sachu­setts is lead­ing a group of nine states in de­vel­op­ing a way to meas­ure and com­pare what stu­dents learn in col­lege by look­ing at their ac­tu­al work, from term pa­pers to lab re­ports, rather than us­ing a stand­ard­ized test. Bo­ston Globe


COL­OR BAR­RI­ER DI­VIDES IOWA’S PUB­LIC-SCHOOL TEACH­ERS, STU­DENTS. The Storm Lake Com­munity School Dis­trict in north­w­est Iowa is the state’s most eth­nic­ally di­verse, with 80.38 per­cent of its stu­dents identi­fy­ing as non­white. Both the Storm Lake and Des Moines dis­tricts have ini­ti­at­ives in place that are de­signed to identi­fy and sup­port people of col­or who as­pire to be­come edu­cat­ors. The Gaz­ette

N.M. HIS­PAN­ICS TOPS IN AP TESTS. His­pan­ic stu­dents in New Mex­ico schools rank No. 1 in the na­tion for their par­ti­cip­a­tion and suc­cess on Ad­vanced Place­ment tests, which pre­pare stu­dents for col­lege and al­low them to skip cer­tain in­tro­duct­ory col­lege courses. Also, New Mex­ico’s low-in­come stu­dents ranked second for their suc­cess on the ex­ams. Al­buquerque Journ­al

ICYMI: Re­cent Next Amer­ica Edu­ca­tion Stor­ies

What If More Col­leges Were Like Am­h­erst? Des­pite a White House call to ac­tion, elite col­leges face in­cent­ives not to en­roll low-in­come stu­dents. By Soph­ie Quin­ton

When Few­er 4-Year-Olds Go to Col­lege. Roundup: As the U.S. moves to­ward minor­ity-ma­jor­ity, col­leges face fierce trade-offs when the na­tion pro­du­cers few­er 18-year-olds with as­pir­a­tions for a bach­el­or’s. By Jody Bran­non

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