Our opinion: Another swing at the ball

From the beginning No Child Left Behind, despite its hopeful name and its promising motives, was doomed to failure.

It came out of the second Bush administration, which looked for a way to improve American education standards, hold teachers and school administrators responsible for meeting those standards.

Simple, right?


At least wrong in the sense that a 12 years later, America’s standing in the world community in education is little different than it was when the law was enacted.

At some point, Washington lawmakers, even those who supported the program, had begun to recognize its shortcomings, among which are that standardized tests are only truly accurate measures of human achievement when humans are standardized, fearful teachers and administrators teaching for the test, and its failure to produce measurable results.

There was another problem as well; the public was fairly confused by the process. They watched as percentages and test scores were posted annually to determine whether schools were meeting criteria for Annual Yearly Progress, but it wasn’t clear how that translated to how their children were learning.

Now, Pennsylvania has joined 41 other states in getting a pass on No Child Left Behind by coming up with its own program to improve education that has been given the federal government’s stamp of approval.

Federal legislators are still trying to formulate something that will apply across the nation, but until their various ideas congeal into a bill, the various states will take a swing.

Pennsylvania’s cut at the ball is focused on what are called the Keystone Exams, successor to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, and considered to be more difficult than the PSSA tests. The first trial exams have already been given and the scores weren’t great, and the Warren County School District has already embarked on a remedial program aimed at the Keystones.

And so, we will be simply teaching for a new test, relying on a new one-size-fits-all formula, and a new set of confounding numbers; educational progress and deja vu at the same time.