Too Much Reading and Math?

July 25, 2007 1 min read

The Center on Education Progress is out with the latest of many NCLB reports. This one documents how schools are emphasizing reading and mathematics at the expense of other subjects in the NCLB era.

The report says that 44 percent of the 349 districts CEP surveyed reported that they reduced time in at least one of the following subjects: social studies, science, art and music, physical education, and lunch and/or recess. Those districts cut, on average, 30 minutes a day from those subjects. That represents 31 percent of instructional time in those schools, the report said.

Not surprisingly, the emphasis on reading and math was strongest in districts that have struggled to make AYP goals.

The solution, CEP says, is to require assessments in social studies and science without adding testing time. That would be done by testing in subjects every year (reading and math in 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades and once in high school; social studies and science in 4th, 6th, and 8th grades and once in high school).

CEP also suggests that the federal government underwrite research that will help teachers incorporate reading and math skills into lessons for social studies and science.

In response, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings says she isn’t convinced. In this statement, she suggests that many districts have added time to the school day for extra reading and math lessons so they haven’t reduced instruction in other subjects.

She also dismisses CEP’s testing proposal, saying it would “dilute the best tool we have to measure whether schools are giving students a good grounding in their most important subjects.” The changes “would roll back the clock on the great progress we’ve made for our poor, minority and special education students.”

Sec. Spellings obviously preferred CEP’s research on state test scores, which she says painted NCLB in a favorable light. See Sec. Spellings’ statement here and some remarks by President Bush here. And here is my story on the report that appeared in Education Week.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.