To the Editor:
In his recent letter to the editor, Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education Raymond Simon writes that critics of standardized testing and the federal No Child Left Behind Act ignore the law’s “positive record” (April 4, 2007). Not so. It is Mr. Simon who appears to have ignored the record.
Mr. Simon claims that since the law was passed, “reading and math scores have risen sharply and achievement gaps have narrowed to record lows.” But several recent reports have concluded that the increase in reading scores on national tests occurred before the law went into effect, not after. There has been no improvement in reading on national tests for 4th or 8th graders since that time. In math, the rate of improvement after the law was passed is the same as it was before. The research also shows that the gaps among racial groups and between high- and low-poverty students are mostly unchanged.
Just in case Mr. Simon and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Education have missed this research, here is a reading list:
1. “The 16th Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education,” by Gerald W. Bracey, published in the October 2006 Phi Delta Kappan.
2. “Selling NCLB: Would You Buy a Used Law From This Woman?,” by James Crawford, available at www.elladvocates.org/nclb/spellings2.html.
3. “Is the No Child Left Behind Act Working? The Reliability of How States Track Achievement,” by Bruce Fuller, Kathryn Gesicki, Erin Kang, and Joseph Wright, published in 2006 by Policy Analysis for California Education, at the University of California, Berkeley.
4. “Did Reading First Work?,” by Stephen Krashen, available at www.districtadministration.com/pulse.
5. “Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-Depth Look Into National and State Reading and Math Outcome Trends,” by Jaekyung Lee, published in 2006 by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week as Reading List for a Less Rosy View of NCLB Effects