Make no mistake here. No child left behind is a very lofty idea and very enlightening, too. But if the government metes out punishment on the schools and teachers whose students fail in state math and reading tests, this policy is no longer laudable.
The real danger of punishing teachers for students’ failure on tests come when teachers, for fear of losing their jobs, focus their time and energy on testing preparation instead of on learning. This reminds me so much of the practice in China. The end result is generating a bunch of students who are experts in taking tests but are weak in various ability.
Schools are important, but ultimately they are important only in the sense that they are to prepare students for the time when students no longer need school.