Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2006.
Test scores are the last refuge of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). They have to be, because so little else about the act is attractive.
NCLB takes a giant step toward nationalizing elementary and secondary education, a disaster for federalism. It pushes classrooms toward relentless drilling, not something that inspires able people to become teachers or makes children eager to learn. It holds good students hostage to the performance of the least talented, at a time when the economic future of the country depends more than ever on the performance of the most talented. The one aspect of the act that could have inspired enthusiasm from me, promoting school choice, has fallen far short of its hopes. The only way to justify NCLB is through compelling evidence that test scores are improving. So let’s talk about test scores.