From A Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind to Race to the Top: The US Response to Global Competition

  • Gay WilgusEmail author


US educational reform initiatives of the past few decades have been ultimately motivated by a desire to ameliorate the United States’ ability to successfully compete in the changing global economy. Addressing the achievement gaps associated with ethnic and racial inequality has been deemed key in this project. Efforts in this regard have focused on (1) identifying a set of achievement standards suitable for all students, grades PreK-12 in every nook and cranny of United States, (2) designing assessment tools that are “perfectly fit” for measuring students’ attainment of these standards, and (3) deriving curriculum that will increase students’ abilities to perform well on the test, that is, curriculum for “teaching to the test.” Primary control over designing this set of common standards, assessment tools, and curriculum has been put in the hands of organizations and individuals with questionable qualifications for doing this work, whose primary interests are business-oriented, not education and student-oriented. In consequence, these initiatives demonstrate wholesale neglect of variables that merit priority in any endeavor to improve student achievement. These include considerations of students’ socio-emotional well-being, as well as other out-of-school elements, e.g., children’s physical health, food and housing security, and linguistic and immigration issues. Educational reform initiatives ultimately intended to improve student achievement need—first and foremost—to direct primary focus to these issues if they intend to cultivate the academically proficient, imaginative, idea-generating, but also emotionally competent individuals a nation requires to successfully participate in the global economy.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationThe City College of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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