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September 8, 2006

The Hidden Cost of Curriculum Narrowing

Craig Jerald [PDF]:

in March, The New York Times published a major education story under the headline “Schools Cut Back Subjects To Push reading and Math.” The article claimed that “thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math requirements laid out in No Child left Behind [...] by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.”1 The headline appeared “above the fold” in the Sunday edition of the Times, the most valuable and influential real estate in american print journalism.

Predictably, the rest of the media quickly picked up the story in a series of ripples extending outward to other newspapers and magazines to radio and finally to television, cycling back to newspapers in the form of outraged editorials. By the time the story hit the late-night talk shows and drive-time airwaves, commentators had begun to express near hysterical dismay that social studies, science, and the arts were all but disappearing from american schools.

Not so fast. as often happens when complex educational issues encounter the popular media, the extent of the problem was blown out of proportion. The original study on which the Times based its story had actually found that about one third of districts reported that their elementary schools had reduced social studies and science “somewhat” or “to a great extent,” and about one fifth said the same of art and music.

More about the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. Via Rotherham.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at September 8, 2006 7:32 AM
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