Ted Talk Script Draft

TED Talk Outline


Standards and Accountability in the United States Education System


Explain how No Child Left Behind did not interpret reported data from schools correctly.


No Child Left Behind incorrectly interpreted data reported by schools not only by lacking to consider the factors affecting the results, but also judging their effectivity and success based upon a very surface level rank order system.


  • Let’s take two imaginary high schools. One is called Penn State and the other is Michigan.
  • Penn State is ranked 41st and Michigan is ranked 40th in the state based off of reported 8th grade math results.
  • Penn State’s reported mean score was 66.5 and Michigan’s was 68.
  • At first glance, Michigan looks like the better high school, since it’s ranked better than Penn State.
  • But should we trust this conclusion?
  • Let’s look at last year’s scores.
  • Penn State reported 42 and Michigan 72.
  • Penn State made significant improvement over the year, and Michigan got decreased their improvement.
  • Somehow Michigan gets ranked higher than us, even though we’re showing evidence of more growth.
  • How does this make sense? That’s the thing, it doesn’t.
  • This exact scenario is what happened to schools as a result of No Child Left Behind.
  • I’ve wanted to be a public-school teacher for as long as I can remember, and I believe in the importance of equal education.
  • One of the ways we’re going to achieve this is holding schools accountable and having high standards. I think this is very important.
  • While No Child Left Behind aimed to reach this very goal, it was written and implemented in a way that not only resulted in a drastic shift in education, but also detrimental effects to schools and education itself.


  • Main Idea– Variables
    • No Child Left Behind did not take into consideration the endless variables that are bound to change the scores reported each year
      • Factors not within the control of schools
        • The particular group of students tested in a given school year
        • School size
        • Corruption of indicators
      • Manipulation to better scores
        • Over identification of students into special ed. programs to create exemptions from accountability
        • Greater likelihood of classifying English Language Learners as special ed. once their English language window expired
  • Main Idea– Ranking
    • A concept called Academic Yearly Progress was determined by rank ordering schools based on assessment results
      • Schools are labeled based off of their results
        • If ranked at the top, a school is successful and effective
        • If ranked at the bottom, a school is unsuccessful and ineffective
      • Repercussions for not attaining AYP
        • Consequences
        • Sanctions


  • No Child Left Behind had good intentions, but the actual piece of legislation was a mess.
  • Ensuring that schools are providing equal educational opportunities is crucial.
  • Labeling schools as effective and successful based off of a single number like No Child Left Behind did is exactly what we’re taught not to do in schools
  • Critical thinking skills are always emphasized, because there’s always more to the story than just what is presented at the surface level
  • If we truly want education to be equal, which I know we all do, then we need to dig deeper when it comes to educational legislation
  • When a single piece of legislation can not only affect our schools, but also the roots of education itself, it shows just how much time, effort, passion, and experience we need to weave into our legislation.


  • Duran, Alex. “Factors to Consider When Evaluating School Accountability Results.” Journal of Law & Education 34.1 (2005): 73-100.

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