June 19, 2007

Don't Know Much about NCLB (but have opinions)

The ETS poll on attitudes towards No Child Left Behind Act is garnering quite a bit of attention, such as from Ed Week. I love pollsters' schizophrenia, simultaneously asserting that the public doesn't know much about NCLB but then talking about public opinion blithely (or is it breezily?). 

The statement designed to gauge how much knowledge affects judgment is fascinating. Here's the description of NCLB used to assess before/after evaluations:

The No Child Left Behind Act provides federal funds for school districts with poor children in order to close achievement gaps. It also requires states to set standards for education and to test students each year to determine whether the standards are being met by all students. In addition, No Child Left Behind provides funding to help teachers become highly qualified. It also provides additional funding and prescribes consequences to schools that fail to achieve academic targets set by their state.

What's missing includes several specifics that matter a great deal in the lives of students and teachers: the AYP calculations, the sequence of prescribed consequences, the definition of "highly qualified teachers," etc. And the end of the briefing powerpoint provides clear evidence that respondents had strong reactions to the different ways NCLB could be framed. Arguments that NCLB encourages teaching to the test were fairly persuasive, and the most persuasive supportive arguments were general (the identification of schools that need intervention, having curriculum standards, and the possibility of improving the law).

Once again, the American public shows itself to be torn over education reform. Any surprise in that finding?

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on June 19, 2007 8:31 PM |