Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.These opening lyrics from the song, “Not On the Test” do a nice job of summing up the painful realities of the testing frenzy that has become the cause célèbre of No Child Left Behind. The first time I heard this song I fell out of my chair laughing. Then I realized… it was funny because of how accurate the sentiments expressed are. Regardless of what administrators and policymakers may want to believe, or what they tell others in public forums, the mania behind teaching to the test is real. The ship has sailed on this fact. Arguing the point that teaching to the test is not happening is like arguing that the earth is flat. Saying it isn’t true does not make it so. I have occasionally used this space to write about how other nations around the world are moving away from standardized tests. I’ve written about how creativity is the emerging force in the 21st Century Economy. I have discussed the need for the arts to be embraced into the core fabric of education for our children. I have spoken of the importance of data. I have written about my belief that the major revisions coming to No Child Left Behind, or as the new Congress refers to it, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, will benefit music and arts education. Accountability In keeping with the theme from our lyrics above I am now moved to address accountability.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math. Forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,The idea of considering accountability was stimulated by the lyrics above, as well as recent events in New York City. The chancellor of New York City’s Public Schools, Joel Klein, recently announced plans to give principals new discretion over the spending of millions of dollars that have been historically designated for arts education. This change is part of mayor Michael Bloomberg’s and chancellor Klein’s plans to give principals more say over how they run their schools and spend this money. This funding had been developed over the past decade to help restore music and arts programs from the major cutbacks that occurred in the 1970s. This designated funding had been augmented by money from outside sources and has been widely acknowledged as being one of the main reasons there has been some optimism about arts programs successfully returning to the New York Public Schools. Word of the removal of the restrictions on this funding was met with great concern by arts and education leaders alike. The New York Daily News ran the headline: Killing $68M art plan paints bleak picture for schools.
Remember your teachers. Their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.