Advocates for broadening the curriculum hope a draft House proposal for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will give a boost to history, art, music, and other subjects that they believe have been marginalized in many districts under the 5½-year-old federal law.
The draft of changes to Part A of the Title I program, released by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, RCalif., and key colleagues late last month, features potential incentives for states to test students in core subjects other than those now required—mathematics, reading, and, beginning this school year, science.
“It’s a good start … and encouraging that Congressmen Miller and McKeon are showing sensitivity to the criticism that there has been a narrowing of the curriculum” under No Child Left Behind, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, and a former aide to House Democrats. “If school districts can include testing in other subjects [in gauging how well their schools are doing], it allows them to pay more attention to those other areas.”
A report released in July by the CEP, a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, found that most districts have significantly increased instructional time in reading and math in the hope of improving student achievement and helping schools meet goals for adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the federal law. The law requires testing in those two subjects annually in grades 3-8 and once during high school.
As a result of that emphasis, nearly half the nation’s school districts pared down instructional time in other critical subjects by more than two hours each week, according to the report. ("Survey: Subjects Trimmed To Boost Math and Reading," Aug. 1, 2007.)
...The preliminary House Education and Labor Committee plan would allow states to include student scores from state tests in history and other subjects as additional measures of how schools were performing. Those test scores would be given a fraction of the weight of math and reading results in determining AYP. The use of multiple measures would give states more information on school performance, said Mr. Miller, the chairman of the committee, whose ranking Republican is Mr. McKeon....
This from Education Week (subscription).