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Unintended Consequences of Striving to Meet the New Accountability Measures: Creating Inequitable Access to Curricula for K-6 Students
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Unintended Consequences of Striving to Meet the New Accountability Measures: Creating Inequitable Access to Curricula for K-6 Students Abstract: This study examines the dimension of equity in children’s educational experiences from the perspective of how classroom time is spent in different schools. Implications for teacher preparation in these vastly different educational environments are discussed. Statement of the Issue : As incontrovertible evidence mounted that too many children were failing to achieve at even minimally acceptable levels, the nation responded. Assessments, and the threat of not measuring up to expectations and standards spurred the education community to action. The logic was, that schools and teachers would modify their practices to ensure that indeed, no child would be left behind. The focus and priority of schools would shift “back to basics” and children would develop a secure foundation in basic skills upon which to build throughout their educational experiences. But like Ms. Clavel in the Madeline stories who watched carefully over her charges many in the education community have awoken with a start, feeling that “something is not right.” Many anecdotal pieces of evidence began to come to light. Student teachers complained, politely, that they were not seeing social studies, science, art or music in their field placement classrooms. Teachers bemoaned they did not have enough time to teach these subjects because of their need to focus on preparing students for material on the standardized tests. This comment was especially common in Title I high needs schools. In this presentation we would like to share the results of survey responses we received from over 700 teachers in 22 school districts. These educators were asked to provide demographic information about themselves, their schools, and their students, and they were asked to report on how they distributed their time in class. The patterns that emerged from this sample suggest grave, albeit it likely unintended and unexpected threats to educational equity. This anecdotal evidence was compelling. Through the empirical data we collected, much to our dismay, we figured out why our student teachers were complaining. This data serves as a foundation for understanding what actually gets taught in schools. The results of our survey showed that: • 98% of the teachers spend less than one-two hours per week on music.• 94% of the teachers spent less than one-two hours per week on art.• 86% stated they spend less than one -two hours per week on physical education• 92% spend less than 3-4 hours per week teaching science.• 91% spend less than one-two hours per week teaching social studies Even more alarming is how time is allocated in less affluent schools on reading/language arts and test preparation, to the exclusion of other aspects of the curriculum other than math, On average students in Title I schools devote up to 4 more hours per week in reading/language arts and two additional days per year preparing for standardize tests than children in non Title I schools. Where does this instructional time come from? Students in Title I schools spend significantly less time in art, music, social studies and

Authors: Nelson, Carolyn., meyers, susan. and strage, amy.
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1
Unintended Consequences of Striving to Meet the New Accountability Measures:
Creating Inequitable Access to Curricula for K-6 Students
Abstract: This study examines the dimension of equity in children’s educational
experiences from the perspective of how classroom time is spent in different schools.
Implications for teacher preparation in these vastly different educational environments
are discussed.

Statement of the Issue
:
As incontrovertible evidence mounted that too many children were failing to achieve at
even minimally acceptable levels, the nation responded. Assessments, and the threat of
not measuring up to expectations and standards spurred the education community to
action. The logic was, that schools and teachers would modify their practices to ensure
that indeed, no child would be left behind. The focus and priority of schools would shift
“back to basics” and children would develop a secure foundation in basic skills upon
which to build throughout their educational experiences.
But like Ms. Clavel in the Madeline stories who watched carefully over her charges many
in the education community have awoken with a start, feeling that “something is not
right.” Many anecdotal pieces of evidence began to come to light. Student teachers
complained, politely, that they were not seeing social studies, science, art or music in
their field placement classrooms. Teachers bemoaned they did not have enough time to
teach these subjects because of their need to focus on preparing students for material on
the standardized tests. This comment was especially common in Title I high needs
schools.
In this presentation we would like to share the results of survey responses we received
from over 700 teachers in 22 school districts. These educators were asked to provide
demographic information about themselves, their schools, and their students, and they
were asked to report on how they distributed their time in class. The patterns that
emerged from this sample suggest grave, albeit it likely unintended and unexpected
threats to educational equity.
This anecdotal evidence was compelling. Through the empirical data we collected, much
to our dismay, we figured out why our student teachers were complaining. This data
serves as a foundation for understanding what actually gets taught in schools.
The results of our survey showed that:
• 98% of the teachers spend less than one-two hours per week on music.
• 94% of the teachers spent less than one-two hours per week on art.
• 86% stated they spend less than one -two hours per week on physical education
• 92% spend less than 3-4 hours per week teaching science.
• 91% spend less than one-two hours per week teaching social studies
Even more alarming is how time is allocated in less affluent schools on reading/language
arts and test preparation, to the exclusion of other aspects of the curriculum other than
math, On average students in Title I schools devote up to 4 more hours per week in
reading/language arts and two additional days per year preparing for standardize tests
than children in non Title I schools. Where does this instructional time come from?
Students in Title I schools spend significantly less time in art, music, social studies and


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