In March of 2008, my family and I moved from Chester, Va. The school system in Chesterfield County conducted Standard of Learning Tests, better known as SOL.
When I began school here in Johnston County, the transition was not very smooth. It quickly became obvious that the testing standards in Virginia were very different from those here in North Carolina. Over the past four years, standardized testing has been very challenging for me.
As I pondered on what subject I would select for my junior research paper, it became clear to me what information I want to divulge. During my research, I learned that while many thought “The No Child Left Behind Act” was established by President Bush in 2001, this act was a continuation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
At the core of the act there were many measures that were designed to drive broad gains in student achievement that reached into virtually every public school in America. US Secretary Arne Duncan stated that the American education system has been improved some ways, but there are still flaws that need to be fixed. It created artificial goals of proficiency that encouraged states to lower test standards to make learning easier and fostered an environment of only learning to test. The tests also showed biases against minorities.
In March 2010, President Obama unveiled a blueprint to reform the No Child Left Behind Act. In May 2012, North Carolina was one of 8 states that received a waiver to the No Child Left Behind provision with a promise to increase accountability and robust learning measures highlighting academic growth.
After a few attempts secure an interview with Senator Kay Hagan, I finally secured a telephone interview with Shaniqua McClendon, a Legislative Aide in Education for Senator Hagan. Additionally, I interviewed Dr. Ed Croom, Mrs. Pam Shelton, Testing Coordinator, Mrs. Patricia McPhearson-Davis, a Principal in the Chicago Public Schools System, and Cleveland High School students from each grade level.
After completing the research and interviews, I concluded that there is a need to conduct standardized testing, but I agree that the methodology needs to be revamped to capture the essence of learning for both the teachers and the students.
Malika M. McPhearson, Cleveland High School