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Given my opinion of how useful these tests are, I agree with Wagner's point about their exaggerated importance. His complaints about how these tests are used would be illogical even for appropriate assessment results. He says that NCLB’s flaws include "a highly punitive approach toward students, teachers, and schools in terms of the consequences for poor performance on the tests… [and] the lack of any assistance for schools that are not making ‘adequate yearly progress'". These tests aren't useful for gauging student learning, but even if they were, removing all support from those who need it most seems at best neglectful, and at worst actively hostile to those students who struggle most. I hope that Common Core assessments are both better measures of student learning and are connected to funding and resources in a way that makes more sense than NCLB-era assessments.
As someone who was very successful in the NCLB era but recognizes the uselessness of many of the assessments used at that time, I feel that our education system needs to take a new approach to how we measure student learning. One of Wagner's other complaints is about the lack of any standardization between states, and this piece is one where I am more conflicted. He believes that it's important for states to have very similar standards, so that a diploma from a high school in one state is of equivalent worth to one from another. I agree with this idea, but at the same time I recognize that this is a virtual impossibility in the US at present. With the massive disagreements between regions and states within those regions regarding evolution, the role of religion in schools, bilingual education, ethnic studies, and a variety of other topics, I don't see it as practical to create national standards. I feel this way especially because I believe that the creation of any such standards would compromise some of my core beliefs about education (although to quote Neil Degrasse Tyson, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it").
Wagner, Tony. Global Achievement Gap : Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--and What We Can Do about It. New York, NY, USA: Basic Books, 2010. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 24 March 2015.