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No Child Left Behind: Flowers don’t grow in the desert
Race and Society (2004)
  • William T Armaline, San Jose State University
  • D Levy, University of Connecticut

The No Child Left Behind legislation purports to effectively eliminate the long standing “achievement gap” between poor and minority students and their white [sic.] peers.We employ a multi-method approach to investigate (1) the discursive dominance and construction of NCLB, (2) the quantitative validity of the law’s implicit causal model of educational achievement and reform, and (3) the experiences of teachers forced to negotiate the demands of NCLB in “failing” schools. Using data drawn from federal and state policy documents, U.S. Census, the State of Connecticut Department of Education, and interviews with teachers from urban schools, we find that: (1) Through the advocacy of state regulated systems of accountability and the imposition of “scientifically proven” pedagogical methods, NCLB constructs a model that removes the effects of structural inequalities from consideration. (2) Quantitative analysis of data drawn from Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) displays the inadequacy of this model. (3) Interviews with urban teachers further validate the inadequacy of this model and the importance of social structural variables in understanding and/or addressing the “achievement gap.”

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Copyright © 2005 Elsevier B.V. The definitive version is available at
Citation Information
William T Armaline and D Levy. "No Child Left Behind: Flowers don’t grow in the desert" Race and Society Vol. 7 Iss. 1 (2004)
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