Go figure: The more we test, the worse student achievement gets

ASCD Inservice recently quoted a legislative aide bemoaning how little emphasis NCLB has placed on secondary schools, specifically on increasing the communication between high schools and colleges on performance expectations for students.

Well, some might argue that the testing frenzy engendered by NCLB has not only affected secondary schools, but it has done so in a very disturbing way.

As part of a faculty-led research project at our community college, we looked very closely at the performance of students from the seven-county area we serve (The Delta region of Mississippi) over a five year period (2001-2006). We discovered that as the state high school exit exam in English was settling firmly into place, more students were arriving at our college (and others) in need of remediation. The consensus among English faculty at the college (and our analysis of work samples confirmed it) was that the quality of students writing was measurably worse than it had been before the mandatory testing program was put into place.

As the legislative aide suggests, we thought it would be a good idea to get together with our secondary peers to discuss expectations, curriculum, learning strategies and the like, but they were too busy with test preparation and administration.