The No Child Left Behind bill is as little of an improvement in the educational system as the concept of social promotion. It provides no incentive for improved schools or teaching methods. The remedy is like a band-aid on cancer, or a crash diet with no change in eating habits. If a student passes an end-of-year examination, he or she is promoted regardless of any true learning skills obtained or problems solved during the year. If by having more students pass the exams a school gets more funding, there is no guarantee that this funding will be used to improve education.
There has to be some way to impart incentive to students. Even without the NCLB, so many schools and teachers tend to lose motivation to teach beyond the minimum levels. Then they wonder why students do not care as long as they pass with a C or a 65 or whatever is a passing mark in the district. Now the school obtains credit or recognition in the community not by the number of college-bound students but by the number who just barely get through each grade. Teachers will teach the minimum amount necessary to pass the test rather than focusing sufficiently on history, science, English and other subjects.
Even an emphasis on extra-curricular activities cease to benefit scholastic performance after a while. Colleges do require participation in these activities, but not to the point where classroom performance suffers. How are students to do well on even the minimum exams when sports team games or drama club performances keep them occupied all afternoon and evening daily. Add to this after-school jobs or family responsibilities. So many sports team players seek out athletic scholarships to colleges, yet have not acquired basic study and research skills required in these colleges. The NCLB exams allow them to cover year-long neglect by learning the minimum exam requirements.
Over the last few years, the SAT examinations have begun to stress critical thinking and writing skills in addition to the multiple-choice math and verbal sections. Subject tests were added as well. How many students in high school classes have been taught in a way that would aid them in these exams rather than a mere repetition of memorized facts and dates to forget at the end of the midterms and finals.
Another case in point: the New York State Regents Examinations, particularly in History and Geography. The short answer questions are difficult, and memorized textbook data characteristic of the classes provides no assistance in the ability to reason out the answers.
There is more to education than the minimum required to get by. If educators do not adopt this concept, how can students be expected to do so.