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The Paradox of Education Reform


by Jeff Gregg & Diana Underwood-Gregg — July 22, 2011

The “standards-based” K-12 educational reform movement began in the late 1980s and continues today. The original goals of most sets of content standards included an altered form of classroom practice. Educational researchers devoted great effort to developing inquiry-oriented instructional materials and professional development models to support the reform efforts. Although there have been pockets of reform success in some schools and districts, large-scale evaluations of reform efforts indicate that the influence of these efforts on classroom practice and student achievement have been uneven at best. It is our contention that reformers’ focus on changing classroom practice is misguided. The standards movement has been hijacked by a “business-scientific” view of schooling that assumes the purpose of education is to prepare students to compete in the global economy. The concepts of assessment and accountability associated with this purpose in the business-scientific view inhibit reform. Researchers committed to reform need to recognize the inherently political nature of reform and work toward a renegotiation of the overarching purpose of education. This also means attending to the consequences of that purpose for school governance, assessment, and accountability.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 22, 2011
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16488, Date Accessed: 12/11/2017 10:24:55 AM

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About the Author
  • Jeff Gregg
    Purdue University Calumet
    E-mail Author
    JEFF GREGG is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Purdue University Calumet. He teaches mathematics and mathematics education courses. He is interested in the historical, social, and political contexts of education reform. His recent work focuses on identifying tensions and contradictions that characterize mathematics education reform efforts.
  • Diana Underwood-Gregg
    Purdue University Calumet
    E-mail Author
    DIANA UNDERWOOD-GREGG is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at Purdue University Calumet. She teaches mathematics education content and methods courses. She is interested in instructional activity design and teacher professional development. She is the Director of the Purdue Calumet Center for Mathematics Teaching and Learning.
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