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NCLB Resulting in Serious Decreases in Many Subjects

According to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy (CEP), about 44% of school districts nationally reported cutting time from one or more other subjects or activities as a result of the NCLB legislation.

The report, Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in the NCLB Era was based on a nationally representative survey of nearly 350 school districts. It reports that time spent on subjects other than reading and mathematics (including science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch and recess) has fallen by nearly one-third since the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act became law in 2002.

About 62% of districts reported increasing time for English language arts and/or mathematics in elementary schools since school year 2001-02, and more than 20% reported increasing time for these subjects in middle school during the same time. Among the districts reporting increased time for English and mathematics, the average increase was substantial, amounting to a 46% increase in English, a 37% increase in math, and a 42% increase across the two subjects combined.

The report notes that the increases and decreases are more prevalent in districts that are home to struggling schools. School districts with at least one school identified for improvement under NCLB reported in greater proportions that they had increased time for English and/or mathematics at the elementary and middle school levels and had cut back on time for other subjects since 2001-02 (78%) than did districts without schools identified (57%).

In addition to increasing time spent on English and mathematics, many districts appear to be changing their curriculum to provide a greater emphasis on content and skills covered on high-stakes state tests used for NCLB purposes. In mathematics, for example, 81% of districts reported changing their curriculum at the elementary and middle school levels to more closely match the content of state tests, while 78% of districts reported doing so at the high school level.

We would love to know if you have experienced similar cuts, especially to computing courses, in your school!

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director

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