Federal

Analysis Finds Time Stolen From Other Subjects for Math, Reading

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — February 20, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Includes updates and/or revisions.

Most of the nation’s elementary schools added at least 75 minutes of instruction time in reading and mathematics each week—and often twice that amount—in the five years after the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act, but many did so by skimming that time from the teaching of science, social studies, the arts, recess, and physical education.

An analysis released this week by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research group, expands on the findings of the organization’s nationally representative survey released last summer. That study found that more than six in 10 school districts had increased reading and math instruction between the 2001-02 and 2006-07 school years, and that more than four in 10 did so while significantly reducing time spent on other subjects.

The findings offer further evidence that the NCLB law has led to sizable shifts in the curriculum.

“This report shows the magnitude of the changes in that we see that substantial amounts of time have been added to reading and math instruction, and substantial amounts of time have been taken from other subjects,” said Jack Jennings, the center’s president and chief executive officer. “The survey’s conclusion is solid, … although it’s not clear if it’s a good thing or a bad thing to have all that additional time spent on reading and math.”

The findings confirm what some subject-area experts have been arguing over the past several years. Groups representing educators in history and social studies, the arts, and foreign languages have been pressing for changes to the law—which is up for reauthorization—contending that the subjects have been marginalized because they are not part of its accountability measures.

Blending of Curriculum

A draft NCLB reauthorization proposal by a House panel this past fall featured potential incentives for states to test students in core subjects other than those now required under the law—reading, math, and, beginning this school year, science. (“House Plan Embraces Subjects Viewed as Neglected,” Sept. 12, 2007.)

The U.S. Department of Education contends that the NCLB law requires the teaching of all core subjects, even if they are not included in its accountability measures.

“We have been hearing from our elementary school teachers for a number of years” that they have less and less time to teach social studies, said Gayle Thieman, the president of the Silver Spring, Md.-based National Council for the Social Studies. “What social studies does particularly well is give students the opportunity to apply their literacy skills, build vocabulary, learn concepts, and get the background knowledge they need.”

Ms. Thieman noted that NCSS members have also complained that they have fewer professional-development opportunities in the social studies because those resources are more often being spent on teacher training in math and reading.

Mr. Jennings said federal officials and researchers should be studying ways for teachers to integrate content from other subject areas into math and reading lessons, and vice versa.

“That’s how schools are dealing with the realities of having to raise test scores and wanting kids to be exposed to other subject areas,” he said. “We should be studying this blending of curriculum and trying to encourage good practices, because we are not going to back down from accountability.”

A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
Jobs January 2022 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Proven Strategies to Improve Reading Scores
In this webinar, education and reading expert Stacy Hurst will provide a look at some of the biggest issues facing curriculum coordinators, administrators, and teachers working in reading education today. You will: Learn how schools
Content provided by Reading Horizons

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona Came in as a Teacher Champion. Has COVID Muted His Message?
The education secretary is taking heat from some who say his advocacy is overshadowed by Biden's push to keep schools open.
11 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona talks to students at White Plains High School in White Plains, N.Y. on April 22, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona talks to students at White Plains High School in White Plains, N.Y., last April.
Mark Lennihan/AP
Federal Citing Educator and Parent Anxieties, Senators Press Biden Officials on Omicron Response
Lawmakers expressed concern about schools' lack of access to masks and coronavirus tests, as well as disruptions to in-person learning.
5 min read
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president, testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to COVID-19 and new emerging variants, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, left, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, testify at a Senate hearing about the federal response to COVID-19.
Greg Nash/Pool via AP
Federal Miguel Cardona Should Help Schools Push Parents to Store Guns Safely, Lawmakers Say
More than 100 members of Congress say a recent shooting at a Michigan high school underscores the need for Education Department action.
3 min read
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the residence of parents of the Oxford High School shooter on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Three Oakland County Sheriff's deputies survey the grounds outside of the Crumbley residence while seeking James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of Oxford High School shooter Ethan Crumbley, on Dec. 3, 2021, in Oxford, Mich.
Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP
Federal In Reversal, Feds Seek to Revive DeVos-Era Questions About Sexual Misconduct by Educators
The Education Department's decision follows backlash from former education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other conservatives.
4 min read
Illustration of individual carrying binary data on his back to put back into the organized background of 1s and 0s.
iStock/Getty Images Plus