A Third Option is Necessary

K-12 Testing

The intensifying battle over the future of NCLB increasingly makes one point clear: A new federal law is needed. On the one side, the current law increasingly reduces schooling to underfunded test preparation programs, particularly damaging the educational opportunities of students who are low income, from minority groups, are English language learners or have disabilities. On the other side, the rationale for the law, the inadequate learning opportunities and outcomes for too many students, remains.

Since neither the current law nor the situation it was intended to fix are acceptable, opponents of test-based accountability and proponents of educational equity should unite to promote a helpful alternative: When given two bad choices, create a third.

The Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB, now signed by more than 50 national education, civil rights, children’s rights, religious and citizens organizations, provides guidance for overhauling NCLB. This approach would eliminate NCLB’s destructive, test-and-punish mandates and would focus on building school and district capacity to educate all children well. This third option would also address many of the concerns raised by recently issued reports on NCLB (see story, p. 16).

The Joint Statement is on the web. See also the "Draft Principles for Authentic Accountability" on the same page.