Summary Assignment


Summary Prewriting


Theme: Education

Topic: No Child Left Behind/Race to the Top

Title: Dictating to the Schools: A Look at the Effect of the Bush and Obama Administrations on Schools. Ravitch is likely against too much government influence on schools and feels that government control is detrimental.

Intended audience: The intended audience is primarily professionals in the field of education and education policy, including teachers and school administrators. However, parents with school-aged children and citizens interested in education reform or education policy could also be included as part of the audience.

Writer’s background: Ravitch is an educational researcher and a former professor.

Writer’s angle: Any discussion regarding how to best implement education reform in our schools is arguable, especially when the subject of standardized testing is involved. Individuals will hold different views on the topic depending on their political backgrounds, affiliations with education policy, and position on standardized testing. Ravitch is opposed to the use of standardized tests and believes they have a negative effect on schools.



Part 1: The one-sentence summary

Ravitch (2011), U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary of Education, criticizes the Obama administration for following Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy, explaining that the government places an overreliance on standardized test scores and teaching to the test over rich curriculum and true reform for underachieving schools.


Part 2:  The one-paragraph summary

Ravitch (2011), U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary of Education, warns that the Obama administration’s control over education reform continues much of the same agenda introduced by the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind policy. Ravitch argues these policies are focused on standardized tests and providing incentives to teachers who produce students with high test scores. While she notes that the policy stigmatizes low performing schools and holds them to unattainable goals, she calls for less government control of education reform and more need for well-educated teachers who are provided with support, professional evaluation, and strong curriculum.

Part 3:  The multiple-paragraph summary

Ravitch (2011), U.S. Department of Education’s Assistant Secretary of Education, criticizes the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education policy agenda for following what she calls the “disaster” of Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy. Government control of education, she notes, has only led public schools to rely heavily on standardized test scores. Ravitch warns that, under the Obama administration, teachers are provided incentives and raises based on test performance, which results in class time being spent teaching test-taking skills or teaching to the test rather than on rich curriculum.

Additionally, Ravitch criticizes the Obama administration’s reliance on charter schools as a way of reforming underperforming public schools, explaining that charters don’t answer the real challenges that face low-income or non-native speaking student populations. In the end, she warns that the outcome will produce students who are not able to comprehend complex knowledge and schools that limit history, science, the arts, civics, and many other components of the curriculum that provide college preparatory instruction. Ravitch notes that the United States, compared to other nations, is not following a model that will produce effective change. She explained, “High-performing nations make sure that students have access to a rich and balanced curriculum, not just a steady diet of test preparation and testing” (p. 8).


Part 4:  Your reaction

Ravitch is right in her assessment of the Obama administration’s educational reform plans. As threats are made to close low-performing schools, Race to the Top provides little explanation in terms of how underprivileged communities will experience any positive education reform. Additionally, I agree with Ravitch’s criticism of incentivizing teachers whose students produce high test scores. This seems to only put more focus on teaching to the test rather than providing students with a well-rounded curriculum that offers broad skills and critical thought. As a research professor and the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Ravitch is well positioned to call upon reform that focuses more on improved teaching, additional resources, and stronger curriculum over more government control.


Part 5:  Reference

Ravitch,D. (2011). Dictating to the schools: A look at the effect of the Bush and Obama administration on schools. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 76(8), 4–9.