Students in low-income schools tend to encounter a basic curriculum heavily focused upon standards-based instruction, while students in more affluent schools encounter a curriculum that is based on standards, but focused on meaningful, varied, learning experiences. Over-reliance on standards-based instruction makes it difficult for students to connect what they learn in school with life outside of school. School becomes boring, leading many students to disengage. To these students a major purpose of learning—to prepare for college and career—seems becomes unimportant. Their visions of the future weaken.

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