No College Left Behind

Everyone wants accountability in higher education: You do; I do; so does the guy next door. After all, students, parents, and taxpayers are investing lots of money in higher education and they want a return. We all agree on that, says Robert J. Sternberg, provost and Regents Professor of Psychology and Education at Oklahoma State University, for the Washington Post. But please: Let’s get it right this time! The last time there was a big push for accountability, it brought us a nightmare—one that has persisted through Republican and Democratic administrations alike. “No Child Left Behind” has been an abysmal failure, and only a blind person could fail to see that it is the Act and those enforcing it, not the schools and kids, who deserves a big F. The Department of Education has been granting waivers left and right because — even with more than sporadic dumbing-down of the tests and faking of the data — states can’t meet the NCLB goals. The law has led to thousands of schools investing untold hours in test-preparation exercises. Instead of educating children, many public schools are preparing students for tests that, at best, yield weak measures of narrowly conceived achievements…

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