In his TED Talks video released this month, Sir Ken Robinson spoke to the U.S. dropout rate and the irony of The No Child Left Behind legislation in America leaving millions of children behind:
…part of the problem is, I think, that the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing. Now, testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help.
In 2007, I had the opportunity to travel to Russia to observe the educational system and to interact with teachers, school leaders, district administrators and teacher education university officials. At their request conversations centered on how they could decentralize the education system in Russia. At all levels, concern was expressed regarding the number of students who were failing the national examinations. They wanted to learn more about how to implement school-based decision making as practiced in the U.S. and how we empower teaching and learning in the classroom. Their system of a national curriculum and testing program was not working.
Neal McCluskey’s policy analysis of national curriculum standards in 2010 found that “Recent actions in countries that often do quite well on international examinations—nations that many national–standards advocates hope to emulate—suggest that they are, perhaps, coming to believe that education cannot and should not be reduced simply to test scores.”
Education Week reports that “as the common core moves into the classroom and common tests draw closer, people are debating whether local communities are losing too much control over their schools.” Sir Robinson notes: “Governments decide they know best and they’re going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students. And if you remove their discretion, it stops working.”