I came across this new release from the Ed Dept. on the “Progress by Our Schools and the U.S. Department of Education.”
The paper outlines what the Ed. Dept. sees as accomplishments of the NCLB era, including higher test scores, a narrowing achievement gap, and progress on international comparison exams. It also recounts some of the changes the law required, including more data, disaggregated by student group, options for students in failing schools, and more support services for those schools. There are sections on teachers, higher education, and choice.
I’m sure some of the claims will be challenged by critics, particularly those that suggest that test scores gains resulted from the law. Indeed test scores for 4th and 8th graders on the NAEP math test, and for 4th graders on the reading test were higher in 2007 than ever before. But many observers say that they rose as part of a trend that started well before the NCLB law came to fruition.
Few would credit NCLB with improved scores in history, especially since many reports suggest that time spent on the subject has declined to make way for more reading and math instruction.
Other claims, however, are indisputable. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, for example, have accountability plans, test students annually, publish report cards on school performance, and participate in the NAEP.
What’s your take?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.