Students come from different socioeconomic levels in society. Thus, they do not come to school with equivalent background experiences. Students from upper and middle class socio economic communities do better in test results as compared to those who come from poverty homes. By viewing mandated test results, it is quite obvious that money assists in securing the good things in life such as tours of other nations/states as well as reading materials at home, and the possibilities of attending prestigious private schools and universities. Parents of higher income levels possess a higher level of educational attainment and do more reading at home which provides a good model for children. Better clothes for children, better homes, and the possibilities of healthful nutrition are further advantages of having adequate incomes. After school programs of lessons in different fields in music and dance further accentuates benefits of being in the upper income levels.
National and State Objectives for Student Attainment
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal law of 2002 emphasizes cognitive objectives, largely, for all students to attain on a specific grade level (grades three through eight and a high school exit test). For any grade level, students take the same test. This is generally true regardless of ability levels or cultural factors such as being a special needs student, an English Language Learner (ELL), or a student from a minority group. All take the same standardized grade level tests with the same time limits for test taking. Any separate category such as special needs children (mentally retarded students, for example) need to show adequate yearly progress or the entire school is deemed as "failing." It's a one size 'fits all' set of beliefs involved in testing (Ediger and Rao, 2007a).
More needs to be said about the home and environmental conditions which students experience from birth to and including the public school years. Those students who grow up in poverty have several strikes against them. They have not experienced models conducive to doing well in school. The late A. H. Maslow (1954) emphasized five general sequential needs of individuals in order to do well in life. The lowest level is for individuals to have adequate nutrition, sleep and rest, as well as have appropriate clothing.
The second level is for individuals to have safety needs met. Freedom from danger and abuse is important. The third level stresses having belonging needs met. All like to possess feelings of belonging. Being isolated and shunned does not make for happiness. Next, esteem needs must be met. Each person desires to be recognized for achievements made and not be bullied. For improved performance in school, all may have esteem needs met with praise and other forms of rewards for improved performance. Then too, individuals like to become the kind of person desired, as a final objective. Maslow's hierarchy of human needs provides a framework for goals that most individuals crave and wish. Too many students experience tremendous obstacles to success in school and in life generally. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) advocates seemingly believe that all students on a specific grade level can experience success regardless of the home and societal environment.
Value added approaches in testing would better reveal an individual student's progress as compared to predetermined standards as advocated by NCLB. In valued added approaches, each student would be compared with his/her previous test score to ascertain achievement. Achievement for any student is desired rather than achievement of predetermined standards. The latter stresses a student setting out to achieve what a remote set of test makers believe that learners should achieve. In contrast, value added procedures emphasize a student's achievement over previous test results. Is growth in evidence? …