Reading Between the Lines

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Shown below is the online gateway to the U.S. Department of Education. The graphic, revised earlier this month, makes the point that federal spending on K- 12 education has skyrocketed since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first passed by Congress in 1965, while reading achievement among 9-year-olds has remained static.

But the flat reading line can be deceiving, some experts say. If viewed more closely, or on a more spacious vertical axis, the scale score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress trend test in reading has had some small but statistically significant ups and downs over the past 30 years. In addition, the chart does not show scores from the NAEP trend test in mathematics, which have improved significantly.

Vol. 22, Issue 41, Page 30

Published in Print: June 18, 2003, as Reading Between the Lines
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