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The Legacy of NCLB

Nclb-logo  What will be the legacy of No Child Left Behind?   Children who have been taught to memorize but not to think.

In a thought-provoking article (excerpted from his book, Reversing Readicide) in Educational Leadership, Kelly Gallagher, who teaches in Anaheim, California, notes that his current freshmen entered second grade when NCLB became law.  “These students have already spent years in schools where teachers and administrators have confused covering massive amounts of material with teaching students how to think and read critically,” he writes.  As a result, skills like creative problem solving and teamwork have taken a backseat to test preparation and memorizing “facts.”

Compounding the problem is that students have become less inclined to read independently.  According to a 2007 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers and reading scores continue to worsen, especially among boys.

We continue to develop curriculum that is “a mile wide and an inch deep,” not only in reading and English, but also in science and math.  Curriculum is “covered” rather than taught.  To reverse the trend, Gallagher suggests that we give students more authentic reading experiences (what adult reads worksheets?).  We should stop “overteaching” books (an entire semester devoted to The Scarlet Letter).  And we should stop “underteaching” books too (a 10-book summer reading list with no introduction or background).

Put Reversing Readicide on your summer reading list after you clear your head with a couple of beach reads.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.