No Child Left Behind works on the assumption that the primary, if not only, reason why some children perform below grade level on tests is because they received inferior education.
If the above paragraph were true, then No Child Left Behind would be a fabulous law. Because it sets out to measure how well schools are performing and financially punishes those schools that are failing to properly educate children.
No Child Left Behind works on the important truth that people respond to incentives. And we see that this theory works very well. Since No Child Left Behind has been enacted, schools all over the nation are now "teaching to the test" in order to boost their students' test scores. This is a fine example of how people respond to incentives.
So why do liberals hate this law so much? Do liberals just instinctively hate anything that Bush does? Do they believe that government should just give money away to school districts without any sort of accountability?
No Child Left Behind does not force any school districts to "teach to the test." If school districts know of better ways to properly educate students, why aren't they using those methods? Before "teaching to the test," the majority of students performed at grade level on the tests. Why don't the schools in poor neighborhoods just use the superior teaching methods of the schools in the middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods? Obviously, educators have absolutely no idea how to increase the performance of students and therefore they are stuck using the only method that actually improves test scores, which is the "teaching to the test" method.
Only when liberals come out and acknowledge the fact that children come to school with a biological level of intelligence which no amount of educational technique can change, only then do they have any right to criticize No Child Left Behind. Because the irony of No Child Left Behind is that it agrees with the liberal dogma and then dishes out the appropriate bitter medicine. But to continue with this analogy, if a doctor prescribes medicine based on an incorrect scientific understanding of the disease, the medicine can do more harm than good.
Is "teaching to the test" bad? It depends on the type of test. If you are teaching a knowledge based subject like History or Biology, teaching to the test simply means that the teacher is teaching the required curricululm. But things are different for reading tests which really are as much IQ tests as they are tests of teachable reading skills. Perhaps the best way to help children read better is to have them read a lot, and constant drilling of reading test questions is only coaching them to take reading tests and doesn't develop useful real world reading skills. Furthermore, repetitive drilling of reading test questions may come at the expense of other teaching that would be more useful for lower intelligence children. But in order to create an appropriate curriculum for lower intelligence chilren, we have to begin by acknowleding that they have lower intelligence in the first place and that no amount of education will alter their brain biology.