The Unintended Consequences of Narrowing Secondary Curriculum in Response to Low Standardized Test Scores
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 placed high demands on public schools by requiring that all students become proficient in math and reading by the year 2014. Many public schools responded to the demand by limiting curriculum to the core curriculum, particularly in the lengthening of the amount of time spent studying the subjects reading and mathematics. School administrations across the country made dramatic curriculum changes resulting in a shift of resources from fine arts classes and other noncore curriculum classes, and limiting student’s elective course choices. Expert opinions were explored via a four round Delphi study to determine the reasoning behind what the possible ramifications may be for public schools, graduation rates, post-secondary schools, job markets, and communities associated with the narrowing curriculum movement, which is also known as double-blocking of instruction. The goal of the study was to contribute to the understanding of the implications narrowing curriculum and stimulate discussion amongst education and community leaders about how this will affect communities in the state of Texas. Eighty-nine percent of panelists agreed that narrowing curriculum practices could lead to lowered college matriculation rates and higher unemployment rates among young adults. Ninety percent of panelists agreed that narrowing curriculum practices could result in a decline of fine and performing arts college degrees because students will not have had an opportunity to experience and explore these options in high school.
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