Flat NAEP Results Should Be a Signal That Real Change Is Needed

By 10/15/2009

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As Mike Petrilli noted here yesterday, there’s not much good news in the NAEP results for mathematics, which were released earlier this week. Fourth graders have made no progress since 2007, and 8th graders have made very little progress.

What is worse than sluggish NAEP scores is their combination with steady, substantial increases in per-student spending in public schools. Teachers unions have done well in improving the income and perks of their members, but not the achievement of our students, whose interests have been poorly represented by federal and state legislators and school board members. Only the East Asian countries have sustained high levels of learning at surprisingly low costs, which is substantially attributable to a large private school sector. And Sweden, the one economically advanced Western country with sharp achievement gains, has a national voucher system, which forces schools, including a growing number of educationally and financially successful for-profit schools, to compete for students. If socialist Sweden can substantially improve its school system via choice, why not the United States?

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  • edlharris says:

    “What has actually happened to math scores in the six years since No Child Left Behind took effect? (From 2003 to 2009?) In fourth grade, black kids’ scores have gone up six points; Hispanic kids have gone up five points. In eighth grade, the gains are larger. Black kids’ scores have gone up nine points, Hispanic kids have gone up seven. If ten points equals one school year, those are extremely strong score gains. But under prevailing laws of education writing, that rule of thumb can only be used to produce gloomy assessments! Pseudo-liberals refuse to tell you that black and Hispanic kids just keep doing better in math. ”

    Bob Somerby

  • Herb Walberg says:

    Unfortunately, US kids still remain far behind others and are unlikely to catch up since policy makers in other countries realize the importance of a well educated workforce and are maintaining or increasing standards while allowing competition among public and private education providers. The American obsession with race and ethnicity distracts Americans from raising all students’ achievement.

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