Thursday, July 23, 2020

No Child Left Behind

Several members of my extended family are teachers.

To a person, they have nothing good to say about No Child Left Behind.

The crux of the issue is that NCLB collectivized the responsibility to learn. It is no longer solely the student's responsibility. Under NCLB the community failed when a student fails.

That sounds wonderful from a 40,000 foot fly-over level but fails when viewed from a Game Theory perspective.

The student quickly learns that he does not need to succeed. He can swoon and drop into the fetal position. Somebody, some collective, will grab the loop sewn into the back of his shirt and drag him into the endzone.

Some kids get test anxiety? No problem. We will give the kid three attempts to pass the test.

The kid feels bad because he was labeled? No problem. We will give EVERY student three chances to pass a test or write a paper.

Guess what, you just tripled the teacher's work-load because EVERY student will take the test or write the paper three times.

There might be some professional satisfaction if the quality between the first and the third effort increased but that is not the norm. The teacher lavishes attention on the paper and it comes back with the same mistakes. Mistakes, incidentally, that are readily flagged by MS Word grammar checker functions.

The problem is not that the students are stupid. They are optimizing their behavior to the existing effort/reward structure. If not explicitly then they are conforming to the culture that evolved during the NCLB years.

Once a kid hits twelve, he should be signed up with an apprenticeship program with the nastiest ones being filled with the youngest students who take a dive.

Bomb-out as a twelve-year-old, apprentice with the guy who pumps septic tanks.

Bomb-out as a fourteen-year-old, apprentice with cement workers carrying hods and blocks up the scaffolding.

They didn't fail. They made early career choice decisions.


  1. As to test anxiety. Some kids with straight A's on daily assignments set and stare at a written test and a few do threaten to find the fetal position. DO they then pump septic tanks ?? Someone who can do Calculus ? Some even do it in their heads ? ? Seems like a better solution should be out there. The part of no child left behind I don't like is where a score of 85 becomes and A ( Im so old at one point it was a 95 for A). Or, where kids do NOTHING for pretty much the entire year and then in last 2 weeks of school get special extra credit etc. Anything to get them across that finish line. Even make up Summer classes. Anything so they aren't left behind

    1. I know two people who had debilitating test anxiety. One was East Indian and faced rigorous testing several times in his academic career. He had a Ph.D. in Engineering.

      I also know an engineer who graduated in the States. He also locked-up on test day.

      Both of them independently arrived at the same solution: They did every problem in the book. Some problems twice.

      Instructors would invariably assign problems 1-15, odd. Both of these men would do all 43 problems at the end of the sub-chapter. They had learned that if the instructor assigned 1-15, odd then the test question for the material would be from 2-42, even or from 17-43, odd.

      They had little anxiety at the tests because they KNEW they had done that problem before and could replicate their work.

      The kid who gets straight A's on daily assignments...did they go through the motions or did they really understand the material?

    2. I had a sociology professor in college with a unique approach to grading. 80% of the grade was attendance and participation. Might've been 90%. There was a midterm and a final that he would basically review in class the session before the test. To get an A in that class you basically had to show up and participate in the discussion of sociological material... Easiest A I ever got.

  2. Works for me! I was shoveling horse manure when I was 11 earning a dollar a day for 10 stalls and paddocks.

  3. Hard work is good training for a work ethic. NCLB was an attempt to fix a bunch of problems with one solution for all of them. I've been on both sides of the fence. Flunked out of high school. Enlisted in the Army. Scored in the 98th percentile on the ASVAB.... Way the fuck out on the right side of the bell curve and flunked out of an AAA high school....
    And went on to receive high honors in college. Twice. Once in STEM and once in management.
    Yeah, the American educational system is FUBAR. A lot of the problem is teachers coasting to their pension. The rest of the problem is evenly divided between parents who view the school as daycare and administrators who see the students as dollar signs on a federal grant.
    The students lose every time!

  4. No Child Left Behind = All Children Held Back

    Legislating for the slowest cripples the system for the rest.

    Military has "diaper rules".

    If one soldier poops his pants, all soldiers must wear diapers.

    Me: Punish ONLY the miscreants.
    Let the rest be the grownups they are expected to be.

    People do what you expect of them.

  5. The only way that "No child left behind" can work for freedom lovers is ...


    Home school your little adults. Defund the public,government indoctrination centers. Trying to find a national solution to a systemic failure in the public education system will never work well. Millions of parents helping THEIR children to find their own special gifts, and putting those gifts into practice, serving the needs of others, will go a long way to correcting the ills of the Dewey worker training program that is present in our midst.


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