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The Centralizing Role of Terminology: A Consideration of Achievement Gap, NCLB, and School Turnaround

Peabody Journal of Education: Issues of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Vol. 87, No. 4

Coby Meyers, American Institutes for Research


American educational policies over the last 40 years have represented an uninterrupted movement toward centralization. This article analyzes three terms that have become critical to the centralization of American education. More specifically, this article reviews the development, language, and source of the thematic terms and associated language of  achievement gap, NCLB, and school turnaround. The author contends that the level of each term's entrenchment in American education varies but that their impacts have all grown from a top-down initiative, and although the terms represent separate concepts, they have been linked in meaningful ways to drive centralization.


Coby Meyers is a researcher at American Institutes for Research. His primary interests are school turnaround, school reform, and school leadership. He is coauthor of the book Turning Around Failing Schools: Lessons from the Organizational Sciences. In addition to school turnaround research, Dr. Meyers is part of multiple evaluations of school reform initiatives, including his role as co-PI of the i3 validation study of eMINTS.