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NCLB Leaves Gifted Behind

December 26, 2007

This Delaware Online article is another article pointing out the harm to gifted kids that comes as a side-effect of the NCLB legislation. And lest you think it’s just a Delaware problem, consider this national statistic presented in the article: “Statistically, 20 percent of U.S. school dropouts test in the gifted range” Keep in mind that the “gifted range” is defined as the top 3%. So 20% of dropouts come from this particular 3% of the population.

Here’s a Washington Post article discussing the same issue. It states that “No Child forces a fundamental educational approach so inappropriate for high-ability students that it destroys their interest in learning, as school becomes an endless chain of basic lessons aimed at low-performing students.” The Math educators reading this might be interested to read that in the author’s opinion, “No Child is particularly destructive to bright young math students.”

Also read this University of Chicago study entitled “Left Behind By Design: Proficiency Counts and Test-Based Accountability” whose cover features the following quote from an anonymous middle school teacher: “We were told to cross off the kids who would never pass. We were told to cross off the kids who, if we handed them the test tomorrow, they would pass. And then the kids who were left over, those were the kids we were supposed to focus on.” This study shows that NCLB is not only leaving the gifted behind, it is also leaving behind the bottom 20% of students, presumably those very students it was intended to help!

Surely I am not the only one who finds this horrifying?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2007 11:10 am

    I find it horrifying too. This is one of the reasons we reluctantly sent our kids to a private gifted and talented school. We were so lucky to have that opportunity. Otherwise I’m sure their education would be quite different.

    My mom has been in education for 40+ years and has lots of stories of how NCLB has hurt students of all educational levels.

  2. December 27, 2007 10:52 pm

    We don’t cross off the kids who will never pass. They have intervention and titles programs and one-on-ones but we do use that “golden band” of kids and put them in intervention right at the beginning of the year. Rationale: they can be pushed over into the “proficient” range quicker than any other students and can make a difference to the school AYP. After the testing, we let them loose and focus on the neediest kids. I’m glad that it’s only six weeks from start of school to testing. But this is a natural consequence of the testing. We began using this in Connecticut with the Connecticut Mastery Tests before NCLB was even a gleam in Bush’s eye. This golden band strategy has probably spread nationwide by now.

    I am totally sure that the folks in the Dept of Education knew this would happen. Isn’t the test structured to ensure that this happen?

    As for gifted, I think these kids have been left behind long ago.

  3. December 27, 2007 11:16 pm

    Seems like every new program leaves the gifted further and further behind, though. 😦 What a shame for our nation.

    I think a lot of schools have a lot more than 6 weeks to “prepare” for testing, though.

    As to what the department of ed knew would happen, it’s a good question. They “should have” known. Maybe they did, but they did it anyway because voters are asking for “accountability”. Perhaps they thought this would appease them, despite all the “unintended consequences” that they must have realized would occur, but perhaps thought voters wouldn’t notice? Seems hard to imagine…


  1. no child left behind? « confluenz

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