In his remarks this morning at a meeting to discuss the reauthorization of ESEA, Education Secretary Duncan had this to say:
“Let us build a law that discourages a narrowing of curriculum and promotes a well-rounded education that draws children into sciences and history, languages and the arts in order to build a society distinguished by both intellectual and economic prowess.”
That statement was music to our ears! Curriculum narrowing is one of the most distressing consequences of the No Child Left Behind law. We’ve heard lots of stories about a diminution in time for the arts, sciences, and history, most frequently in states that have high-stakes tests for only math and reading and in schools with disadvantaged populations.
We aren’t necessarily advocating for more testing, particularly if they are of the same quality that most states use today. So, if it the solution is not more tests tied to school accountability, what is it?
How can the ESEA reauthorization discourage curriculum narrowing? What incentives could be established? How about encouraging states to make their reading curriculum content-rich by importing history, civics, and the rest of the liberal arts an sciences into reading lessons? It would certainly make the study of reading more interesting for students and–most importantly–it is the only proven way to increase reading achievement in a lasting way.