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‘No Child Left Behind’ Impact Appearing at Law Schools

A retired high school teacher who has been awarded multiple times for his work, Kenneth Bernstein, issued a warning in Academe and then reprinted in The Washington Post: “Professors beware—students educated under the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top policies are heading your way,” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Bernstein explained, “I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.”

There was one mistake in his warning, that the students have already arrived at law schools and colleges across the country. They are not properly prepared for rigorous reading, critical thinking, working independently and high-level writing.

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Bernstein talked about how for more than a decade, the culture of test taking and teaching to the test has dominated public and private schools alike all over the country. Now these teaching methods are being felt in colleges because those students are arriving from the high school levels.

Professors talked about their concern of the cultural shift at the Association of American Law Schools conference in January. Some of the professors at the conference said that the writing skills of their current students are some of worst they have ever seen.

The approach of teaching to the test is becoming increasingly popular even in Advanced Placement courses that provide college credit. The reason for this is the rankings in magazines schools try to attain. Schools have lost funding, enrollment, and teachers because of under-performance on tests by students.

'No Child Left Behind' Impact Appearing at Law Schools by

  • Paul Garlinghouse

    Thank you Mr. Bernstein,

    I thought I was the only one to be so horrified at what has become of education in this country. Both my children are in the midst of their weeks long rounds of standardized tests. I had to calm my 9 year old son down after he was pumped up with anxiety over his upcoming writing test. He was taught to follow some convoluted outline to respond to a writing prompt, and he worried he would not be able to remember all the steps. I had to assure him that the test was not a personal crisis, whatever score he got would not have consequences for him, but the teachers and school worry about the test because they are evaluated based on test scores. Also, that writing did not have to follow a set formula, he should simply write something about what he thought about the prompt and keep writing until time ran out. He did calm down about the test, but I am so tired of the school doing nothing but teach to the test most of the year and then driving the kids crazy with fear as they approach the actual long grind of testing. my gosh, I only spent 3 days taking the bar exam in two states. Parents and others need to keep raising their voices against this testing craze every chance they get.

  • Tim Morgan

    “They are not properly prepared for rigorous reading, critical thinking, working independently and high-level writing.”

    In other words, they are made in GWB’s image!

    The law is also a metaphor for this age’s inexorable drive toward instant gratification. Pass a law, fail to fund it or to take a hard look at human nature, and pretend you’ve accomplished something.

  • Ted Rosenvelt

    Plutocrats and monopolies have crusted the value of our labor through #propaganda, deregulation, #profiteering and #monopolies. It’s further degraded a nation in economic and cultural decline.

    This leaves us all in survival mode, doesn’t it, he asked, rhetorically.

  • Ted Rosenvelt

    crushed, not “crusted”… but “crusted the value of our labor” is interesting too, like a lot of the meals hedge fund operators eat in high end restaurants.

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