Now we get to part of the article in which Ryan tells us how to fix NCLB, otherwise known as pure fantasy. He has three main ideas for "fixing this mess," and by ideas I mean Ryan's opinion utterly lacking any empirical support.
1. National Standards.
It's time to create national standards and tests in at least reading, math, science, and social studies/history.For some reason, national standards have become synonymous with "perfect standards." As if anything that goes through the political process on the national level with all the competing interest groups get a chance to influence the process in a way that benefits their particular way of educating. Now recall that most educator's "particular way of educating" is not only ineffective, but often detrimental to at-risk students. To put it mildly, there is absolutely no reason to believe that National Standards will be any better than the existing state standards, which are on average pretty awful.
2. Administer fewer tests
National tests should be given less often, perhaps in only fourth, eighth, and 11th grades.Because it's always easier to identify and diagnose problems with less feedback, especially when you don't know what you're doing in the first place. It's a trial and error approach in which each trial last four years before we determine whether there's been an error.
3. Rank schools; don't prescribe punishments
I don't see how ranking schools is any different of better than what we're doing now, unless there's some benefit to even less accountability--because that's exactly what everything proposed in this paragraph actually leads to.
Ranking systems aren't perfect, but using multiple criteria to rank schools should provide a much clearer and fuller picture of school quality. States can then decide on their own how they want to sanction or assist the low-performing
And, before NCLB we used to let the states police themselves and they completely failed to do so. So good luck with that.
Then Ryan tells us:
If and when NCLB is fixed, the next president should concentrate on two key
issues: teachers and preschool.
By concentrate, Ryan means "give more money to." And, we all know how well that's worked in the past. There is little correlation between teacher compensation and teacher performance. Most of the existing problems are unrelated to compensation. Increasing compensation won't help poor teaching practices and bad curricular decisions.
Universal preschool is the next magical panacea. But I can't for the life of me figure out hoe adding a year of preschool is going to help at-risk kids if the same clowns that run kindergarten run it. If they can't teach them in kindergarten, which they can't, what makes you think they'll be able to teach them in preschool when they are even younger and more difficult to teach.
NCLB is far from perfect; but there's no reason to think that Ryan's suggestions will improve anything.