This thesis stems from personal involvement in the educational process of preparing students for life after high school and the negative implications inherent in teaching to state and national standards. The culturally and linguistically diverse student often sacrifices academic rigor in order to achieve competency on these exams. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has caused serious shifts in how and what is taught in the language arts classroom. At issue is the question of academic success and acquired learning for the low performing, multilingual, culturally diverse student. My research centers on the theoretical views espoused in critical pedagogy and multicultural education. The premise of my project centers on the importance of including a literature-based curriculum which is considered inclusive of multicultural, multiethnic literature. It is difficult to separate one theory from another since together they analyze, challenge, and interpret the politics of institutionalized oppression found in our current educational climate. The complementary nature of both approaches is fundamental to reshaping, rethinking and reacting to concerns about curricular choices currently mandated by school districts attempting to invoke a cookie-cutter approach to mastering state and national standards. Major concerns revolve around the role of the current Western canon as "core" literature in language arts classrooms and the lack or limited representation of multicultural, multiethnic literature, the over abundance of teaching to mandated state and national exams, and the current pressure to replace literature with expository texts. Evidence in the scholarship reviewed here indicates the inequalities intrinsic in curricular choices when students are tracked due to their linguistic or cultural background as well as the limited acquisition of knowledge and critical reasoning when teaching to the mandates of NCLB. The ethnographic studies highlighted indicate that when students find relevance in the literature they study, are actively engaged, and find representations of themselves in the literature they are exposed to, literacy rates improve, student mastery of mandated exams occurs, and students become active participants in their educational goals. There are effective programs such as the Puente High School Project which serve to correct this deficiency but which are, unfortunately, not considered the norm for all school districts.