Do Schools Pass the Test?
How are schools doing?
The public schools are doing better in student achievement, and schools are doing better at narrowing the achievement gap between different groups of studentsalthough the achievement gap is still very substantial. If you have the top students and the bottom students both increasing their scores, then you have achievement without closing the gap. That is happening in many states, but our findings show that the number of states where the achievement gap is closing far exceeds the number of states where the achievement gap is widening. If we want to [close] the achievement gap, our study shows it can be done, but with a lot more effort than we have today.
Will this quiet NCLB's critics?
We don't want to oversell this report. We cannot draw a direct line between these test scores and NCLB. The problem is that there's no control group. With NCLB, every student is affected. We will never be able to measure what education would be like without NCLB. In addition, considerable federal, state, and local reform efforts were underway prior to and since 2002.
But this is in no way a declaration of victory. Other countries in the world are surpassing us in terms of high school completion and in terms of students going on to postsecondary education. We used to lead the world in those two categories. This report should show that there is improvement but we need to accelerate our efforts.