Unintended consequences in education

Jerry Pournelle on education:

Read the whole thing, but this stood out:

One way it got worse was the conservative attempt to make it better by imposing No Child Left Behind. As many of us pointed out at the time, the only way to be sure that no child is left behind is to see that none get ahead.

Classic unintended consequence.

If you are dealing with class averages and minimum scores, it’s trivially true that your best investment is in the marginal students who are almost able to pass the test. The result is triage: bright students are ignored. Average students get minimal time. Dull average gets the most time. Really dull gets no time at all. The result is a rising median score, kudos for the teacher, and more federal money for the school. That may not be the results the parents and taxpayers intended, but it’s what they get — assuming that the teacher has been successful. Success is likely, though. It’s a lot easier to coach dull average into average than to inspire bright average to be superior. Which has the better effect on society?

Actually, I would have loved to be ignored in school. It would have been a huge improvement.

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