Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Has Student Achievement Increased Since NCLB?

"Answering The Question That Matters Most" -Center For Education Policy, June 2007

The report said:

"The weight of evidence indicates that state test scores in reading and mathematics have increased overall since NCLB was enacted."


"Elementary school math is the area in which the most states showed improvements."

and yet...

"There is a certain degree of “fuzziness” and distortion in state test results that is derived from the tests themselves and the way they are created, administered, and scored."

About which the media said:

Scores Up Since 'No Child' Was Signed
Study's Authors Unsure Whether to Credit Law for Gains

"The nation's students have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since President Bush signed his landmark education initiative into law five years ago, according to a major independent study released yesterday." (Amit R. Paley, Washington Post, 6/06/07)

New Study Finds Gains Since No Child Left Behind

"Student achievement has increased and test score gaps between white students and black and Hispanic students have narrowed in many states since President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind law in 2002, according to a new survey of state scores in reading and math." (Sam Dillon, The New York Times, 6/06/2007)

Students Doing Better on Math, Reading

"Students are doing better on state reading and math tests since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted five years ago, according to a report Tuesday."

"Students made the most progress on elementary-school math tests, according to the report by the Center on Education Policy, a national nonprofit policy group." (Nancy Zuckerbrod, AP Education Writer 6/5/07)

Of course, Margaret Spellings has happily assumed the role of giddy spin-doctor thanks to the latest report: "This study confirms that No Child Left Behind has struck a chord of success with our nation's schools and students," U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in a statement. "We know the law is working, so now is the time to reauthorize."

The report is riddled with caveats and uncertainties and excuses. But, as every good spin-doctor knows, headlines are what really matter. The press release usually sets the tone. Anyone who actually bothers to read the actual report is probably immune to your spin anyway.

My favorite gem hidden among the spin (NYT) was a quote by Professor Fuller (UC Berkley) who points out that the researchers appeared to have eliminated testing periods in some states that showed predominantly falling scores after 2002.

“It’s like calculating the annual rate of economic growth over the past century after excluding the Great Depression years. It upwardly biases their estimate of annual growth in test scores.”

Yes, I do believe that little omission just might skew things a bit.

Full Report Here:

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