No Child Left behind and the Reduction of the Achievement Gap: Sociological Perspectives on Federal Educational Policy

By Alan R. Sadovnik; Jennifer A. O’Day et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

This book presents a sociological analysis of federal educational policy, focusing especially on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and whether it can or will accomplish its major goal: to eliminate the achievement gap by 2014. Based on theoretical and empirical research, the chapters examine the history of federal educational policy and place NCLB in a larger sociological and historical context, as well as a number of policy areas affected by the law, including accountability and assessment, curriculum and instruction, teacher quality, parental involvement, and school choice. The book concludes with a discussion of the important contributions of sociological research and sociological analysis to understanding the limits and possibilities of the law to reduce the achievement gap by 2014.

Given the importance of NCLB, it is imperative that legislators, policymakers, educators, and parents have objective, data-driven, theoretical, and nonideological information and analyses to guide decision making and policy debates. Unfortunately, the discussion of NCLB has too often been ideological, rhetorical, and lacking in data about the law and its effect.

As a discipline, sociology has much to say about key concerns of No Child Left Behind: accountability and assessment, instructional improvement, teacher quality, recruitment and professional development, parental involvement, and school choice. However, the discourse on NCLB has been dominated by educational psychology and economics, with insufficient regard to the issues of stratification processes, organizational dynamics, and institutional structure that our discipline would illuminate.

Much of the public debate about NCLB has been political and ideological with little light shed on the effects of the law on the organizational contexts of schools. Within these contexts, sociological analyses examine the effects of NCLB on different groups of students and schools and the ways in which school organization and structure affect achievement. Further, sociologists of education provide

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