Federal

12-State Study Finds Falloff in Testing Gains After NCLB

By Scott J. Cech — July 30, 2007 3 min read

Since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law, test-score improvement among 4th graders in 12 states has fallen off in reading and slowed in math, according to a new study.

The paper also cites National Assessment of Educational Progress scores reflecting a virtual halt to progress in closing racial achievement gaps in reading since the federal law was signed in 2002.

The research, which draws on data from both state tests and the federally administered NAEP, is sure to add fuel to the heated debate over the controversial law as Congress prepares to take up its reauthorization.

“Over the past four years, ‘No Child’ proponents have made very strong claims that this reform is raising student achievement,” said lead author Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Policy Analysis for California Education research center based at Berkeley and Stanford University. “In fact, after NCLB, earlier progress made by the states actually petered out.”

Mr. Fuller said that pattern emerged from his examination of pre-NCLB state test data as well as results from the long-term NAEP. But he does not suggest that the NCLB law is responsible for the reading-achievement stagnation and math-gain slowdown that he says occurred in the 12 states since the 1990s.

The study, published in the July issue of Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the Washington-based American Educational Research Association, joins a thicket of recent reports on achievement levels since the federal law took effect.

In math, the new study found a rise in achievement since passage of the NCLB law in the 12 states studied: Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington state.

Between 2002 and 2006, the study shows, scores on the 12 states’ tests registered an unweighted mean growth rate of 2.4 percentage points in math proficiency. But the researcher noted that growth was slower after 2003 than it had been before passage of the NCLB law.

“Sustained gains in math post-NCLB offer a bright glimmer of hope that federal policy can make a difference inside classrooms,” Mr. Fuller said in an e-mail.

The new research follows a June study by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy that found consistent and significant increases in state-test scores since the legislation became law in January 2002.

Mr. Fuller found fault with the CEP study’s reliance on state tests alone, which he said were less trustworthy gauges of progress than long-range NAEP data—especially on reading.

When asked to comment on Mr. Fuller’s new analysis, CEP President Jack Jennings defended the state tests as “more accurate barometers of whether kids are learning what the state thinks is important.”

Reading Gap Sustained

Katherine McLane, the press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, took issue with Mr. Fuller’s conclusions.

“The fact is that No Child Left Behind is working,” she said. “What the report seems not to account for is that a law that affects tens of thousands of schools all over America can’t be implemented overnight and its effects are not immediate.”

On the achievement gap, Mr. Fuller’s study pointed to national NAEP data showing that in math, African-American 4th graders closed the gap with white students by more than half a grade level between 1992 and 2003. But it highlighted the fact that no further progress was made in 2005. Latino 4th graders, he observed, continued to close the math achievement gap even after passage of the federal law.

In reading, however, Mr. Fuller pointed to national NAEP data showing that black and Latino students’ 4th grade reading proficiency has not appreciably narrowed the gap with white students’ scores under the NCLB law.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Measuring & Supporting Student Well-Being: A Researcher and District Leader Roundtable
Students’ social-emotional well-being matters. The positive and negative emotions students feel are essential characteristics of their psychology, indicators of their well-being, and mediators of their success in school and life. Supportive relationships with peers, school
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Making Digital Literacy a Priority: An Administrator’s Perspective
Join us as we delve into the efforts of our panelists and their initiatives to make digital skills a “must have” for their district. We’ll discuss with district leadership how they have kept digital literacy
Content provided by Learning.com
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How Schools Can Implement Safe In-Person Learning
In order for in-person schooling to resume, it will be necessary to instill a sense of confidence that it is safe to return. BD is hosting a virtual panel discussing the benefits of asymptomatic screening
Content provided by BD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Miguel Cardona: Schools Must Work to Win Trust of Families of Color as They Reopen
As Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced new school reopening resources, he encouraged a focus on equity and student engagement.
4 min read
Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing Feb. 3, 2021.
Now-U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee during his confirmation hearing in February.
Susan Walsh/AP
Federal CDC: Nearly 80 Percent of K-12, Child-Care Workers Have Had at Least One COVID-19 Shot
About four out of five teachers, school staffers, and child-care workers had first COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of March, CDC says.
2 min read
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11, 2021. Teachers received their first vaccine during an all-day event at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
John Battle High School teacher Jennifer Daniel receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 11at the Virginia Highlands Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.
David Crigger/Bristol Herald Courier via AP
Federal Ed. Dept. to Review Title IX Rules on Sexual Assault, Gender Equity, LGBTQ Rights
The review could reopen a Trump-era debate on sexual assault in schools, and it could spark legal discord over transgender student rights.
4 min read
Symbols of gender.
iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A EdWeek Q&A: Miguel Cardona Talks Summer Learning, Mental Health, and State Tests
In an interview after a school reopening summit, the education secretary also addressed teachers' union concerns about CDC guidance.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 17.
Andrew Harnik/AP