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Argument: No Child Left Behind over-emphasizes math and reading in curriculum

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Barack Obama said on Sept. 5, 2008, in Pennsylvania - Math and science are not the opposite of art and music. Those things are compatible and we want kids to get a well-rounded education. Part of the problem we've had is that 'No Child Left Behind,' the law that was passed by Bush, said we want high standards, which is good, but they said we are going to measure those high standards only by a single high stakes standardized test that we are going to apply during the middle of the school year...a whole bunch of schools said we gotta teach to this test, and art and music isn't tested… It's a shame.

Robert Lynch. "No Child Left Behind Act wrongly left the arts behind". The Hill. March 12, 2007 - As Congress considers reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, set to expire in just six months, it should correct the legislation’s unintended consequences, which include reducing the amount of arts education in our nation’s schools.

That effect may seem ironic, since the legislation lists the arts as one of 10 “core academic subjects” of public education. But it also requires schools to report student achievement test results for only two subjects: reading and math. With the emphasis on just those two, the arts have suffered.

A recent national study of the Act’s impact by the Council on Education Policy reveals that a majority of school leaders saw gains in achievement, but 71 percent reported having reduced instructional time in at least one other subject to make more time for reading and math. Since the passage of NCLB, 22 percent of elementary school leaders surveyed reported a decline in their art and music instruction.

Claudia Wallis, Sonja Steptoe. "How to Fix No Child Left Behind". Time. May 24, 2007 - TOO MUCH READING AND MATH? Sinking state standards are not the only unintended consequence of NCLB. Because the law holds schools accountable only in reading and math, there's growing evidence that schools are giving short shrift to other subjects. In a survey of 300 school districts conducted by the Center on Education Policy, 71% of local administrators admitted that this was the case in their elementary schools. Martin West of Brown University found that, on average, from 1999 to 2004, reading instruction gained 40 min. a week, while social studies and science lost about 17 min. and 23 min, respectively. But the decline of science and social studies is often much steeper in schools struggling to end a record of failure. At Arizona Desert Elementary in San Luis, Ariz., students spend three hours of their 6 1/2-hr. day on literacy and 90 min. on arithmetic. Science is no longer taught as a stand-alone subject. "We had to find ways to embed it within the content of reading, writing and math," says principal Rafael Sanchez, with some regret. Social studies is handled the same way. The payoff for this laser-like attention to reading and math: the school went from failing in 2004 to making AYP and earning a high-flying "performing plus" designation by the Arizona department of education last year. But reading about science isn't the same as incubating chick eggs and watching them hatch. And cutting out field trips to Civil War sites and museums to drill social studies vocabulary words is not the way to build a love of history. Hands-on activities are, for many kids, the best part of school, the part that keeps them engaged. The scope of education isn't supposed to be based on what's tested; it's the other way around, says P. David Pearson, dean of the University of California, Berkeley, graduate school of education. "Never send a test out to do a curriculum's job," he says.

"No Child Left Behind a flawed system". The Daily Campus. February 22, 2005 - As teachers and administrators face the pressure of meeting the federally mandated proficiency standards, important student classes and activities have been reduced or eliminated. Art, music, physical education, social studies and other important subjects not tested have taken a back seat to intensive instruction geared specifically toward standardized tests.

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