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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
Beyond Rhetoric
8 Mile
Exodus
Starting Out on the Right Path
Principals of Leadership
No Child Left Behind
Diversity, Economics and Education
Globalization’s Missing Middle
Leveling the Playing Field
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Spring 2004
No Child Left Behind
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A QUICK REVIEW OF RECENT POLICY may clarify why there is concern about the provisions of NCLB, which appear to focus attention on the learning of each and every child. Federal requirements related to state policies have, in general, been limited to concerns about civil rights, support for disadvantaged and handicapped students, dissemination of models for improvement, and research and statistics. The generation of national, not federal, standards and curriculum goals — what should be taught — began in the late 1980s in mathematics, and later in the sciences, arts, civics, history and language. Following a statement of National Educational Goals by the nation's governors, states for the most part voluntarily adopted or adapted subsets of standards to guide their teaching and assessment policy.

Many of the standards communicate on a general level what is to be learned but do not provide sufficient guidance for some teachers to select appropriate instructional methods, sample texts or analytical methods. Take, for example, this from California's History-Social Science Standard 6.1: "Students describe what is known through archaeological studies of the early physical and cultural development of humankind from the Paleolithic era to the agricultural revolution."

This standard is so broad in its coverage that it is difficult to know what to teach and what will be measured. Consider attempts at specificity — for example, these from Grade 6 History-Social Science Standards 6.1.2 and 6.1.3: "Identify the locations of human communities that populated the major regions of the world and describe how humans adapted to a variety of environments" . . . "Discuss climate changes and human modifications of the physical environment."

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