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Race to the top and leave the children behind

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Abstract:

The USA was the first nation to attain universal secondary education through the creation of a unitary school structure capped by the uniquely American institution, the comprehensive or cosmopolitan high school. Other leading democratic nations adopted the comprehensive model, but not until well after mid-twentieth century. The modern movement for charter schools was advocated by President George H.W. Bush in America 2000, issued in 1991, and subsequently expanded in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed by President George W. Bush. The charter school movement, coupled with nationalized testing, was to gain great momentum under President Barack Obama in Race to the Top—raising a clear and present danger of splitting up the school system. Once ubiquitous in the elementary school, shop classes have been virtually eliminated while the studio arts—the subjects that children love—have been cut back drastically. Once regarded as professional malpractice, teaching-to-the test is now a ‘best practice’, with deleterious consequences for the school curriculum, and in making decisions on pupil placement, teacher tenure and school evaluation. There is an abiding taboo in the education profession against exposing the invalidity of external, high-stakes, standardized tests in making such decisions.

Keywords: consequences; education; evaluation; reorganization

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2012.754946

Publication date: 2013-02-01

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