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President Obama discusses educational reform at town hall meeting

Speaking at a town hall meeting hosted by Spanish-language network Univision on Monday, President Barack Obama said school performance should be measured in other ways besides the standardized testing of students.

The President told the audience at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington D.C., "Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students." While he doesn't want to see standardized tests disappear completely and acknowledges the importance of language and math proficiency, he is pushing for other criteria to be considered when gauging the success of schools including performance in other subjects, as well.

Obama's visit to the school came in the midst of a push by the President for a revision of the No Child Left Behind Act, which some educators believe has hurt rather than helped schools. NCLB mandates that 100 percent of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014. To meet this goal, some schools have begun focusing more on preparing for the tests and have cut back instruction in history, science, social studies, literature, and geography, not to mention arts and physical education.

"One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you're not learning about the world, you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math," said Obama. "All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that's not going to make education interesting."

Obama seeks to replace the NCLB 2014 mandate with the mandate that all graduates of the high school class of 2020 and beyond should be ready for college or a career when they graduate. To do this, said Obama, we must emphasize parental involvement, investment in early education, educating and hiring the highest-quality teachers, extra help for students who have fallen behind, and help and incentives for schools with high drop-out rates.

Obama urged students to consider pursuing a career in teaching. "If students aren't getting the education they need, then we won't succeed as a nation," Obama told the town hall meeting audience.

Watch the entire town hall via YouTube here.

For more Schools.com coverage of President Obama and education, read: