I happen to work in the education industry, which (in the US) is massively affected by NCLB – No Child Left Behind.
It’s a law/program/initiative intended to ensure every K-12 student in America gets on grade level in key curriculum areas such as reading and math by 2014. It also happens to be one of the major drivers of the high-stakes testing craze that is sweeping much of North America … and a very controversial law for educators.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be working. From the NY Times:
The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state’s results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.
“Together, these four factors account for about two-thirds of the large differences among states,” the report said. In other words, the states that had the lowest test scores tended to be those that had the highest percentages of children from single-parent families, eighth graders watching lots of TV and eighth graders absent a lot, and the lowest percentages of young children being read to regularly, regardless of what was going on in their schools.
Which gets to the heart of the report: by the time these children start school at age 5, they are far behind, and tend to stay behind all through high school. There is no evidence that the gap is being closed.
I recommend you read the entire article – it’s a great indictment of top-down educational polity in the US.
And it points out that the major issues in education are not at root issues with education: they are issues with our society, with our parents, with our families … and with the ways that we raise our children.