"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Curriculum

Press release from CEP:
WASHINGTON—February 20, 2008—Last summer, a groundbreaking report verified what many in the education and policy communities had long suspected: that a majority of the nation’s school districts were increasing time spent on reading and math in elementary schools since the No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002, while most of these districts cut back on time spent on other subjects. Today, a follow-up report issued by the Washington, D.C.- based Center on Education Policy provides an unprecedented look at the magnitude of those changes.

In its earlier report, CEP found that a majority of school districts—62 percent— had increased time for English language arts (ELA) and/or math in elementary schools since school year 2001- 02. Meanwhile, 44 percent had increased time for ELA and/or math at the elementary level, while simultaneously cut ting time from one or more area s including science, social studies, art and music, physical education, recess, and lunch. CEP’s new report, Instructional Time in Elementary Schools: A Closer Look at Changes for Specific Subjects, examines the size of the shifts in those districts, in order to determine just how extensive the changes were.

According to the report, districts increasing time for ELA and math had done so by an average of 43 percent , or about three hours each week. To make room for the added time for ELA and math, districts reducing time in other areas averaged cuts of about 32 percent across those subjects, nearly 2.5 hours each week. Some of the districts reduced their time in one subject, while other districts decreased instructional time in several areas.

“We knew that many school districts had made shifts in the time spent teaching different subjects since the No Child Left Behind was enacted, but we had little evidence of the magnitude of these changes within those districts,” said Jack Jennings, president and CEO of CEP. “Digging deeper into the data, we now know that the amount of time spent teaching reading, math and other subjects has changed substantially. In other words, changes in curriculum are not only widespread but also deep.”

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