NCLB’s Role in Rising Test Scores Unclear

June 24, 2008 1 min read

“Has student achievement increased since 2002,” the Center on Education Policy asks in its latest report.

The short answer is: Yes. On state tests, the increases are greater than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The achievement gap between whites and minorities narrowed more often than not across the states, the report says. If you want to see how your state shapes up, CEP has snapshots of all the states.

But does that mean NCLB is the reason for the increase? Not necessarily.

Even though the report bills itself as “the most comprehensive, intensive, and carefully constructed study” of student achievement in the NCLB era, it can’t answer that question.

“It is impossible to determine the extent to which these trends in test results have occurred because of NCLB,” the report says.

The report CEP released on the same subject last year included similar disclaimers. It also noted that achievement rose faster in the years before NCLB than it did in the years after. But that didn’t stop some of NCLB’s supporters (including one who works in the Oval Office) from declaring victory.

Sean Cavanagh has more on the latest report in a story now on

UPDATE: Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., issues a statement on the report. It doesn’t use the words “No Child Left Behind.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.