Positive Education Controversies

Positive education is, by no means, uniformly agreed on as an effective teaching strategy. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was proposed in 2001 to improve the conditions of public schools in the United States. The act has imposed standardized testing on all schools that are government-run and receive government funding. Each school's test results are analyzed, and schools with continuously low test scores are obligated to develop an improvement plan. There is still much debate whether the act has a positive effect on America's education system, since it is based on performance-based education reform. Supporters of the act believe that setting measurable goals will improve individual educational success and that statewide tests will improve the situation of public schools. Major teacher's unions and other opponents, however, have doubts about the act's effectiveness, which may be due to the mixed results of NCLB, arguing over the ineffectiveness of standardized tests and higher standards for teacher qualification. Opponents also argue that standardized tests are exceedingly biased and that higher standards for teacher qualification simply contribute to teacher shortage.

Similarly, the 2009 United States Department of Education program Race to the Top, designed to spur reform in K-12 Education, and awarding $4.35 billion in funds, has been controversial for its emphasis on testing to evaluate schools, an approach which contrasts positive schooling techniques, and data regarding its effectiveness has yet to be produced.

Besides the emphasis on standardized testing to evaluate school performance, tracking has been a very controversial, yet widely implemented, approach to learning in America's public schools. Tracking is an approach which places children in classes according to expectation levels. Honors, college-preparation, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate classes are examples of higher-level learning courses, while schools may simultaneously offer regular-level classes for other students. Research has shown a disparity in the enrollment of these classes based on race. Research also shows that while separation by tracking is beneficial for higher-level students, it produces no benefit for lower-level students, and is possibly even detrimental to their academic success. Many advocates for education reform discount tracking based on the argument that a rigorous, quality education should be provided universally through public schools.