First, the idea of basing the success of education on standardized tests and having all teaching going toward those tests is not going to work.
Second, the emphasis on reading and math and making them the high stakes subjects has caused many schools to cut back on social studies and science.
The original idea behind public education in America was to make sure the citizens had the knowledge to make well-informed decisions at the ballot box. It has been perverted over the years to become a tool of businesses who, instead of wanting skills that will enable students to adapt to the many changes that will take place during their lifetimes, always seem to want skills that will enable young people to step into a job and be able to succeed without any training. Unfortunately, those skills are sometimes outdated by the time the students arrive at the job, leaving the businessmen (and their politician supporters) crying about how education in America is failing.
The News-Leader editorial says:
There's a better way, and it's to let teachers do their jobs. Let principals and superintendents develop solutions that fit for their schools, for their neighborhoods, for their cities.
Elementary classrooms should be exciting places where highly qualified educators get children excited about learning. Despite the bleakness of the study and the narrowness of No Child Left Behind, many of our classrooms are exactly that, but not enough of them are, and the reason is our incentives for learning, and for quality teaching, are backward.
In focusing on narrow tests, our schools have ignored science and social studies, the National Institutes of Health study indicated, and only one in seven children has an opportunity for a consistently high-quality "instructional climate."
We can and should do better, and we can start by turning our system upside down.
If we give the teachers the freedom to do their jobs, we're confident they'll produce children who are excited about learning, and, over time, the test scores will take care of themselves.