In one of today's WSJ editorials (Acid Tests: No Child Left Behind is beyond uninformative. It is deceptive), a former teacher says: "'I want to teach my students how to write,' he said, 'not teach them how to pass a test that says they can write.'"
I know far too many teachers that feel the same (be it about English, math, science or some other subject). The point behind education should not be to (again, quoting the article) "hold good students hostage to the performance of the least talented". Yet that's what we're doing, all in the name of Good Education. It's appalling that our system, which should be producing the best, brightest, most capable students out there, is instead starting to produce test-taking drones.
No wonder they're escaping into screen-based reality, finding the virtual worlds of MySpace and Facebook more appealing. No wonder good teachers are leaving the profession - who would want to be hemmed in by prepared scripts, with your job on the line if you don't get good results based on one test a year? Even AOL "retention specialists" get more than one shot to make good.
A friend of mine, in Texas, reported that the influx of New Orleans survivors drove down test scores in her school (NOTE: this is probably due to the trauma involved in the move from NOLA to Texas, as well as different testing and schooling methods). So Texas schools will suffer because, under NCLB, they're not serving all their students. Other states are facing loss of funding because their scores have not risen high enough.
That's one of the reasons I support private (or independent) school education. We're not governed by the strictures that surround NCLB. We don't have to "teach to the test". And we produce students that are actually interested in what they've learned. What more could any teacher (or librarian) ask for?