Salon's piece on No Child Left Behind and the cheating epidemic points out that "[r]Rampant and widespread cheating on high-stakes standardized tests has been uncovered in districts nationwide" in the decade since NCLB became law:
NCLB mandates high-stakes standardized testing to monitor student achievement and aggressive intervention into schools that fall short: making Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, became a matter of a school's -- and increasingly teacher's -- survival.
Test results have been used as the pretext to fire teachers and force schools into becoming privately managed charters, even though research has shown that corruption-prone charters are not, as a whole, better, and are often much worse than traditional public schools. And the testing mandates have proven to be a bonanza for for-profit education companies likePearson and Kaplan (the latter is owned by the Washington Post Co.), which produce tests and materials to drill students in preparation.
Often derided as "No Child Left Untested" for its reliance on test results, NCLB has had other effects--"[t]he pressure to do well on standardized tests has also eviscerated the curriculum:"
Arts, science, music, physical education, literature and even recess are on the chopping block as teachers are forced to spend an ever greater amount of time on test preparation. This degrades classroom learning -- and, once again, the fundamental value and accuracy of the test.
The article concludes that "the high-stakes standardized testing regime cheats our children in more ways than one," and I have no difficulty agreeing with that analysis.