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August 11, 2008

Purdue Expert

Education — Testing, diversity, educating rural students for high-tech future

Written news tip below:
No Child Left Behind has produced benefits, but unintended consequences

Video at left, expert discusses:
• Bridging the achievement gaps
• Pluses and minuses of standardized testing
• Diversity in education and preparing teachers to work with diverse students
• Successes and challenges of No Child Left Behind
• Rural education in the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines

News tip: No Child Left Behind has produced benefits, but unintended consequences

WEST LAFAYETTE - A national education accountability law may be forcing teachers to focus on the basics at the expense of more complex skills such as team building and creativity, says a Purdue University expert.

Sidney Moon, associate dean of learning and engagement in Purdue's College of Education and a professor of educational studies, says that six years into the federal reform of the public educational system known as No Child Left Behind, problems persist in schools.

"No Child Left Behind has had unintended consequences, which is what often happens when you provide a one-size-fits-all solution to problems that are really very complex," Moon said.

Moon said as teachers concentrate on bringing all children up to general competency levels on basics such as reading and mathematics, other themes necessary for social development and higher level critical thinking have been pushed aside.

"There has been a decrease in the amount of time and attention that schools are able to provide to things like teaching students to work in teams to solve difficult problems, which are very important outcomes as far as business and industry are concerned," Moon said.

Gifted children, who often are ready to move beyond basic education well before their peers, also are feeling the fallout of No Child Left Behind, she said.

"Some of our brightest and most talented learners are being neglected because of the focus on bringing all children up to minimal competencies," Moon said.

As the federal government considers renewing the initiative, Moon said educators and lawmakers would do well to consider the history of the program and try to address such concerns as they move forward. While Congress debates the merits of the law and struggles to determine its future, both the positives and the negatives need to be weighed carefully, she said.

"I think No Child Left Behind has created a positive atmosphere of accountability where schools are responsible not just for what they are doing, but for the outcomes of what they are doing – for what their students learn," Moon said. "We just need to take a wider look and consider whether we are encouraging a well-rounded curriculum that prepares students for the modern world. We will have succeeded when we have created a learning environment where all students have the chance to excel."

More about Sidney Moon,
Associate Dean for Learning and Engagement, Professor of Education Studies

Sidney Moon studies talent development in the STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, underserved populations of gifted students and personal talent and development.

She has been involved in the field of gifted education for almost 25 years. In that time, she has contributed more than 75 books, articles, and chapters to the field. Her most recent book is “The Handbook of Secondary Gifted Education.”

Moon is active in the National Association for Gifted Children, having served as chair of the research and evaluation division and a member of the board of directors.

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079, tanyabrown@purdue.edu