Study Finds 'No Child' Has Low Teacher Support
The study interview board-certified educators who criticize NCLB for stifling creativity in students and handing over increased influence to text book and testing companies
Many teachers oppose the testing and instructional requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, a new study has found.The legislation, which became law in 2001, fundamentally changed teaching and education in U.S. schools by requiring annual testing of school children and "adequate yearly progress" for every subgroup of students.
The act also requires schools to provide after-school tutoring and other services for poor- performing students and mandates that schools hire only "highly qualified" teachers.
Authors of a study published last week by UC Riverside surveyed 740 board-certified teachers in California to assess the effectiveness and unintended consequences of No Child Left Behind.
The study found that 84 percent reported overall unfavorable attitudes about the act.
The bill increased federal funding for education while tying continued support to improvements in individual student scores.
"Many teachers came into the profession because they wanted to make a difference, and they believed they could make a difference if they taught to the whole child," said Rebecca Harper, president of San Bernardino Teachers Association.
"So when No Child Left Behind came in and minimized the amount of time teachers were allowed to spend on character, music and art, it soured them on the profession."
Under the act, states became responsible for creating performance standards, and through standardized testing, ensuring that at all students would meet the standards within the next 12 years.
The researchers - Patrick Guggino, who earned his doctorate in education from UCR in 2008, and Steven Brint, professor of sociology - conducted an online survey in 2007 of board-certified teachers.
Guggino and Brint asked the teachers to assess the impact of No Child Left Behind in three areas - technical areas of practice, the service ethic of teaching and professional commitment.
Among their findings:
- 61 percent said the act created an overly narrow conception of education.
- 46 percent felt it diminished creativity.
- 59 percent said it had unintended consequences, primarily less creativity in the classroom and increased influence of textbook companies to determine the content and pace of instruction.
One in four teachers surveyed said the act helped them improve as instructors. One in four also said the act had lowered their commitment and loyalty to the profession, and two in five said it had a negative influence on their own enthusiasm for teaching, the report reads.
"There is so much focus on standardized testing, and that seems to be the end-all-be-all," said Suzanne Miller, a teacher at Mountain View School in Claremont.
"Most can read by the end of the year. They've picked it up pretty well, but the trade-off is they're not painting and playing blocks - and that takes away from their fine motor development skills and their outlet onto creativity."