In the text, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, author Diane Ravitch explores her ideological shift on school reform and the empirical evidence that caused this shift. Once a proponent and contributor of testing, accountability, choice, and market reforms, Ravitch’s support began to diminish as she realized that these current reforms were not viable options. She came to realize that the new school reforms focused entirely on structural and managerial adjustments and that no focus was given to actual learning.
The implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act applied a market approach to school reform as a way of improving the school system. This new law promised an era of high standards, testing, and accountability in which not a single child would be overlooked (Ravitch, 2011, p. 93). Therefore, accountability became the central focus to improve education in America. Schools and teachers would now be judged or held accountable by their performance, and schools that failed to meet certain standards would be closed; this was a basic principle in the business sector (Ravitch, 2011, p. 8). Furthermore, NCLB mandated that every school must be 100 percent proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014; consequently schools that failed to perform would suffer punitive consequences. However, by 2007, the evidence was becoming clear that the mandates of the new law were not increasing student achievement in learning. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the federal testing program reported that only one-third of students met the federal standard for proficiency (Ravitch, 2011, p. 103). Ravitch argued that 100 percent proficiency in reading and mathematics was unattainable by the proje...
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...explains the consequences behind too much effort and time spent on preparing students for state tests. She believes that students master test-taking skills, but not the subject. Additionally, students may be able to pass the state test, but are incapable of passing a test of similar content for which they did not practice. More importantly, focus on test preparation narrows the curriculum because more time is spent on preparation for tests in reading and mathematics that little time is spent on other vital subjects (Ravitch, 2011, p. 159). Ravitch states that if the only factors that matter in education are defined by what can be measured, we lose the main objective of education. She further argues that schools are responsible not only for teaching basic skills, but to shape character, develop sound minds, and form citizens for our democracy (Ravitch, 2011, p. 167).
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