Federal

House Plan Embraces Subjects Viewed as Neglected

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — September 07, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Advocates for broadening the curriculum hope a draft House proposal for reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act will give a boost to history, art, music, and other subjects that they believe have been marginalized in many districts under the 5½-year-old federal law.

The draft of changes to Part A of the Title I program, released by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, RCalif., and key colleagues late last month, features potential incentives for states to test students in core subjects other than those now required—mathematics, reading, and, beginning this school year, science.

“It’s a good start … and encouraging that Congressmen Miller and McKeon are showing sensitivity to the criticism that there has been a narrowing of the curriculum” under No Child Left Behind, said Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, and a former aide to House Democrats. “If school districts can include testing in other subjects [in gauging how well their schools are doing], it allows them to pay more attention to those other areas.”

See Also

For more on this topic, read our blog, NCLB: Act II.

A report released in July by the CEP, a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, found that most districts have significantly increased instructional time in reading and math in the hope of improving student achievement and helping schools meet goals for adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the federal law. The law requires testing in those two subjects annually in grades 3-8 and once during high school.

As a result of that emphasis, nearly half the nation’s school districts pared down instructional time in other critical subjects by more than two hours each week, according to the report. (“Survey: Subjects Trimmed To Boost Math and Reading,” Aug. 1, 2007.)

Other surveys and reports have confirmed that trend.

Grants and Measures

See Also

Read the accompanying story,

The preliminary House Education and Labor Committee plan would allow states to include student scores from state tests in history and other subjects as additional measures of how schools were performing. Those test scores would be given a fraction of the weight of math and reading results in determining AYP. The use of multiple measures would give states more information on school performance, said Mr. Miller, the chairman of the committee, whose ranking Republican is Mr. McKeon.

“We address the question that’s been raised, … whether NCLB is driving the narrowing of curriculum by school districts responding [to the law] simply by teaching to the test,” Mr. Miller said in a conference call with reporters last week. “Instead of using one multiple-choice test on one day,” he said, “we ought to allow schools to provide additional information that would give a more comprehensive and accurate picture of how schools are doing.”

The discussion draft also proposes a grant program for districts to strengthen instruction in “music and arts, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, history, geography, and physical education and health as an integral part of the elementary and secondary school curriculum.” It does not specify funding levels or say how many grants would be available.

According to Martin West, a professor of education at Brown University in Providence, R.I., who has studied the impact of the NCLB law and state tests on the school curriculum, the prospective grants would likely be less of an inducement to enhancing state testing programs than the multiple-measures provision.

“The testing proposal is potentially important to states that might want to consider testing in other subjects,” he said, “because doing so under the current NCLB creates a divergence between the state system and federal system.” The Miller-McKeon draft plan “would remove an important disincentive,” Mr.West said.

Some educators said they were encouraged by the plan.

“The notion that only very practical training equips you to deal with life and the world that we live in goes against every educational tradition for thousands of years,” said Theodore K. Rabb, a professor emeritus of world history at Princeton University and board chairman of the National Council for History Education, in Westlake, Ohio. Mr. Rabb asked the council’s membership this past summer to write Congress about their concerns over reductions in history education.

“This proposal is the most encouraging single thing that has happened lately,” he said, “that [lawmakers] are beginning to realize that there is a problem.”

A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 2007 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
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
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
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

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 What the 2024 GOP Platform Says About K-12 and What It Would Mean If Trump Wins
We break down what the GOP's 2024 policy platform says about education.
7 min read
Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Trump National Doral Miami, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Trump National Doral Miami, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Doral, Fla.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP
Federal Q&A Ed Research Isn't Always Relevant. This Official Is Trying to Change That
Matthew Soldner, the acting director of the Institute of Education Sciences, calls for new approaches to keep up with classroom tools.
5 min read
USmap ai states 535889663 02
Laura Baker/Education Week with iStock/Getty
Federal Project 2025: What It Is and What It Means for K-12 If Trump Wins
The comprehensive policy agenda proposes eliminating the U.S. Department of Education under a conservative president.
4 min read
Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, speaks before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at the National Religious Broadcasters convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center on Feb. 22, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn.
Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, speaks before Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump at the National Religious Broadcasters convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center on Feb. 22, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. Democrats are using the Heritage Foundation's Project 2025 agenda to show what could happen in a Trump presidency while the former president distances himself from it.
George Walker IV/AP
Federal Which States Have Sued to Stop Biden's Title IX Rule?
A summary of all the lawsuits challenging the Biden administration's Title IX rule that expands protections for LGBTQ+ students.
3 min read
Misy Sifre, 17, and others protest for transgender rights at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, March 25, 2022. On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Utah and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation.
Misy Sifre, 17, and others protest for transgender rights at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, March 25, 2022. On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, a federal judge in Kansas blocked a federal rule expanding anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students from being enforced in four states, including Utah and a patchwork of places elsewhere across the nation. The case is one of eight legal challenges to those expanded legal protections contained in new Title IX regulations issued by the Biden administration.
Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP