Monday, March 21, 2011

Use A Test, Go to Jail

Thanks to Robert Skeels, from the Solidaridad Blog for posting this report from Fairtest: NCLB Fuels School-to-Prison Pipeline: New Report.

According to the report, NCLB’s emphasis on test scores and its consequences for failing to meet them, puts phenomenal pressure on schools to raise test scores by any means necessary. One of the ways schools are trying to boost their scores is by removing “problem” students who are not performing well on the tests. This has resulted in increasing expulsion rates and greater reliance on the criminal justice system to deal with disciplinary matters. The report says that expulsion rates are now at an all-time high and much higher than they were in 2002, when NCLB first started. Furthermore, NCLB funds can be used to hire school-based law enforcement personnel, thus encouraging the use of the juvenile justice system to solve disciplinary problems that would have traditionally been resolved by the school.

There are also much less sinister and more prevalent ways in which NCLB funnels children into the criminal justice system. The heavy emphasis on testing has taken away much of the creativity and inquiry from learning, while also putting considerable pressure on teachers to move more quickly through their curriculum. This can contribute to disciplinary problems for students and provide the rationale for implementing zero-tolerance and other heavy handed disciplinary policies that push kids out of the schools more easily and for minor offenses. NCLB has also lowered graduation rates. Young people who lack high school diplomas have higher rates of incarceration than those who complete high school.

To read the full report, click here.
To visit Fair Test, click here.

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