The article begins with a brief review of prior school reform movements and how and why they are different from today. Unlike past reform movements, school reform efforts are now focused on two key ideas: performance and scientific evidence. Motivated in part by economic considerations, the underlying rationale for many school reform programs is to raise the performance of U.S. students by strengthening their knowledge base and skills. Similarly, the emphasis on scientific evidence can be viewed as an economic global response to rising costs of research and development in fields such as medicine, criminology, and social welfare. This focus on performance and scientific evidence is embodied in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which expanded the federal role in education and substantially altered what the purpose of education should be, when and how it should be measured, and what type of evidence should be used for its improvement. The review concludes by examining how these performance-driven reforms and the push for evidential science to assess their effectiveness can be viewed as part of a changing scientific intellectual movement.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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