No Child Left Behind Shortchanges Science

In a new article in School Library Journal’s “Extra Helping” Newsletter entitled “Schools Cut Back on Other Subjects to Focus on Reading, Math,” Debra Lau Whelan writes:

Are teachers spending less time on science and social studies to focus on their students’ reading and math scores? You bet, says a new report that analyzes how much other subjects are suffering as a result of districts trying to meet the strict requirements of No Child Left Behind.

How bad are the cutbacks? Whelan writes that the Washington, DC-based Center on Education Policy (CEP) reports that “53 percent of the districts surveyed cut instructional time by at least 75 minutes per week for both social studies and science.”

That’s a loss of 15 minutes per day or 45 hours per school year for each of those subjects, both vital for helping youngsters develop and refine their critical thinking skills.

For an inside look at the way NCLB has changed instruction in a school often cited as a “poster child” for the program’s success, including the impact on education in science, social studies, and the arts, I recommend Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade by Linda Perlstein. (The link takes you to my review of that important book.)

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