2005 December 29 Thursday
No Child Left Behind Shafting Education Of Bright Students

Susan Goodkin argues that the No Child Left Behind act of the US Congress is increasing the incentive on schools to neglect the education of brighter students.

Conspicuously missing from the debate over the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act is a discussion of how it has hurt many of our most capable children. By forcing schools to focus their time and funding almost entirely on bringing low-achieving students up to proficiency, NCLB sacrifices the education of the gifted students who will become our future biomedical researchers, computer engineers and other scientific leaders.

The drafters of this legislation didn't have to be rocket scientists to foresee that it would harm high-performing students. The act's laudable goal was to bring every child up to "proficiency" in language arts and math, as measured by standardized tests, by 2014. But to reach this goal, the act imposes increasingly draconian penalties on schools that fail to make "adequate yearly progress" toward bringing low-scoring students up to proficiency. While administrators and teachers can lose their jobs for failing to improve the test scores of low-performing students, they face no penalties for failing to meet the needs of high-scoring students.

Among his many other sins George W. Bush signed NCLB into law. NCLB (which I call No Lie Left Behind), by slowing the rate of education of the most gifted, moves American education in the wrong direction. We already suffer from a declining percentage of smarties due to immigration. The smarties produce the designs and discoveries that raise all our living standards. They need to be educated at faster speeds, not slower speeds. But the political class is acting in willful ignorance of the fact that some groups are going to continue to perform poorly due to average lower intellectual abilities. Of course our current immigration policies are also a product of willful ignorance by elites that lie to themselves and to the rest of us about human differences. Big bright shining lies are very damaging.

My advice to parents of gifted children is to look for learning materials that will allow your children to learn much more than what is taught in school. Recorded lectures (whether audio only or also video) are one way to expose bright young minds to more complex and advanced materials. Also, consider giving early bright high school children advanced placement tests so that they can start striving to earn college credit while still in early adolescence.

If you have bright kids you have to accept that the educational system is increasingly arrayed against you. Intellectually bankrupt university education departments teach that the brightest and dumbest should be mixed together in the same classrooms. Poorly performing ethnic groups demand their students get proportional numbers of seats in classes for mentally gifted students. The US federal government incentivizes schools to pay more attention to the dummies and to neglect the smarties. To speak so bluntly and honestly about this may seem rude and crude to some of my readers. But the policies are both cruel to the students and economically destructive. We can't afford to be all feminine and sensitive when discussing important matters. Too much depends on bluntly speaking the truth.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 December 29 11:01 PM  Education

John S Bolton said at December 30, 2005 1:58 AM:

Officials have a most exceedingly embarassing failure to cover up. They said that they could equalize the races, given equal facilities. These officials have fallen flat in the mud; their disgrace is absolute. With the same schools, the same teachers and courses and materials, the races come out just as different. Does this mean that they should not be allowed to increase the aggression on the net taxpayer and other victims of their quest for government school money and power? Not according to them it doesn't. Since they don't want to admit to being unable to equalize the races within a school, not only the bright, but the average students of the higher-performing groups must be brought down somehow. Now it should be clear what NCLB means. They are demanding to be allowed to increase the aggression against the majority, and their excuse for failure is that anyone who doesn't like it is a racist. The government schools are stained with hopeless failure. We can have freedom from aggression, but not so long as the government schools are not privatized.

Agnostic said at December 30, 2005 11:24 AM:

NCLB is the final blow in a series of anti-smarty education policies, and one of the primary reasons I'll always work outside the public school system as a teacher/tutor. I went to elementary school as recently as the mid-to-late '80s, and I still remember the gifted kids having their own space: there were about four or five of them, and they had their own special classes & teachers. For every academic subject, the regular-level classes were divided into three ability levels (triangle, square, circle), and none of us grew up screwed up because we noticed that some students were better spellers than others. Math smarties got to work on their own using flow charts since they were so far out ahead of everyone else. I still remember feeling gipped that I wasn't in the top spelling group, so for a few weeks I spelled out the words for the top group in addition to my own and was "promoted" -- such a nerd! I imagine if someone tried that today, they'd be put on watch as an intellectual snob trying to make everyone else feel dumb, rather than simply trying to do their best.

BTW, this all took place in a middle-of-the-road elementary school in Columbus, Ohio, not some experimental school somewhere. It's amazing how quickly the final blows have come. Many more good articles about the recent fate of gifted education over at Linda Gottfredson's website -- http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/
just CTRL+F "gifted."

Jim said at January 3, 2006 3:48 PM:

this is probably as damaging, or more so, to our nation economic future than increasing the number of dumb kids at the low end of the distribution

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