In a recent New York Times article, a recent study by the Center on Education Policy would appear to show that a fewer number of schools have increased time in Reading and Math, the two subjects that the No Child Left Behind Act focuses on, than previously thought. Today’s post contains some of TeacherJay’s opinions on the CEP and NCLB.
The Center on Education Policy was founded in 2001 at the time of the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act. Although CEP claims to be an advocate for the public school system with the goal of producing more effective schools, they seem to spend an awful lot of time focusing on the NCLB. They certainly receive funding from some excellent sources, such as the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, but can this organization really have an impact?, is that even their purpose?
For starters, they changed the way that questions were asked… this had the effect of showing only 44% of schools increasing time spent on Reading and Math as opposed to the 71% in the previous study. Why the change? If this is truly and independent group, why do they continue studying until they get a particular result and then not even acknowledge their previous findings?
It would seem to TeacherJay that such a group has an agenda that belies their appearance. A research study that does not fully disclose its methods and findings has a bias and in this case it is the bias of their own sustainability. TeacherJay is not necessarily accusing the CEP of supporting NCLB, but they do have a vested interest in seeing the debate continue. In their reports they issue recommendations on how to “improve” the situation, but they are not clear on exactly what needs to be fixed, keeping their advice somewhat vague and therefore difficult to implement. Furthermore, many of their suggestions such as “urging” states to give instructional time to arts and music is unrealistic as they provide no methods of how to do so other than testing a wider range of subjects.
Any reasonable person can see that schools shifted instructional time to Reading and Math because they knew their students needed to do well on the state exams or risk losing Federal funding. Because the Feds have not issued a standardized measure to assess school progress, it is up to the states to come up with it, and for schools to take even more instructional time away in order to complete the testing. Just as the states have done, so has the CEP taken to changing the assessment tool in order to get the results that suited their needs.