Saturday, March 25, 2006

Back to Basics!

The NYT reports on the shift to the "3R's." I hated to see the Feds move into education, but it is paying off. The schools would not have done this otherwise. A couple of quotes:

Schools from Vermont to California are increasing — in some cases tripling — the class time that low-proficiency students spend on reading and math, mainly because the federal law, signed in 2002, requires annual exams only in those subjects and punishes schools that fall short of rising benchmarks.

The changes appear to principally affect schools and students who test below grade level.

The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art. A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities.

The survey, by the Center on Education Policy, found that since the passage of the federal law, 71 percent of the nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math. The center is an independent group that has made a thorough study of the new act and has published a detailed yearly report on the implementation of the law in dozens of districts. Read the rest


Blogger Mark in Texas said...

This program of testing all kids in school with consequences, both good and bad, for the teachers and administrators based on the results was going on in Texas while George Bush was Governor.

The results have been that Black and Hispanic kids in Texas score better in tests than Black and Hispanic kids in most other states and in places with crappy public schools, like California, their scores are even with the White kids.

Does this mean that the kids are learning? They are learning how to take tests, if nothing else, and they have to be able to read in order to do that.

I think that a lot of the complaining from the education establishment is because 1) nobody really likes to be held accountable, especially if they were never held accountable before 2) it is the teachers, rather than the children who are bored with the basics.

My personal feeling is that schools exist for kids, not teachers. The kids who are being helped the most by this stress on basics are the kids who are most at risk.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Bill Millan said...

You and I seem to be in Close agreement.

3:37 PM  

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