Friday, October 21, 2005

Survey says NCLB shifts curriculum

From the Times Argus, October 20, 2005 MONTPELIER — What Vermont students learn and how they are taught are increasingly dictated by standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to a new Dartmouth College survey.

The curriculum shift often departs from standards adopted by local school boards and the state Department of Education, said the survey, which was conducted by the Policy Research Shop at Dartmouth's Nelson A. Rockefeller Center.

The survey's preliminary results suggest that as students, teachers and parents start dissecting the latest national achievement scores released Wednesday, they need to analyze whether local and state control over education standards are being changed.

While the No Child Left Behind Act was designed to "strengthen student competency in math, reading and science, policymakers, educators and researchers have raised concerns that the new accountability system may also lead to a shift in school curriculum toward the tested subjects and away from other non-tested subjects," the study's authors concluded.

The survey said more than 83 percent of Vermont superintendents who responded said that "teaching to the tests" is increasingly common or occurring "throughout the district..."

..."Despite state standards in non-tested subject areas, the imposition of high-stakes testing appears to cause school districts to prioritize tested subjects over non-tested subjects," the survey said.

It added, "A curriculum shift to the tested subjects is occurring regardless of other state standards and policies that require other subjects, like social studies and the arts, be important parts of the curriculum."

Contact Darren Allen at

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