Hello, Sweetheart. Get Me Rewrite!

by Robert Pondiscio
April 29th, 2009

The ledes on yesterday’s NAEP numbers in papers across the country this morning:

“The basic math and reading skills of USA students have slowly, surely improved over the past 30 to 40 years, new findings show, with sharp increases among many of the nation’s lowest-performing students – especially in the past four years” – USA Today

“U.S. high-school students haven’t achieved any significant gains in reading or math for nearly four decades”  - Wall Street Journal

“Math and reading scores for 9- and 13-year-olds have risen since the 2002 enactment of No Child Left Behind, providing fuel to those who want to renew the federal law and strengthen its reach in high schools” — Washington Post

“The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics” — New York Times

The nation’s 9- and 13-year-olds are doing better in math and reading than they did decades ago, test results released Tuesday show” — Atlanta Journal Constitution

“American 17-year-olds aren’t performing any better in reading and math than their bell-bottom-clad counterparts in the early 1970s” — Christian Science Monitor

NAEP Reactions Cheat Sheet

by Robert Pondiscio
April 29th, 2009

Glass Half Full

“It shows that we are on the right track. It is not an accident. It is by design. It proves the policy principle.  Accountability is working. Where we’ve paid attention, grades 3 through 8, we are getting the best results. Where we have paid less attention, high school, we’re not” — Margaret Spellings

“Overall scores in both [reading and math] are up with nearly all gains reaching statistical significance (save 17-year old math scores). In many cases, all-time highs were hit” – Andy Smarick

Today’s new NAEP data is mixed news with enough kernels for people to argue that current policies are/are not helping improve achievement especially for traditionally under-served kids, are/are not hurting advanced kids, some encouraging results for early grades but not for high school etc…it’s a stimulus program for education partisans!  Short answer, we need to do a lot better but all is not lost”  Andy Rotherham

“Why the difference in elementary school reading, the sort of difference that could put a smile on even the most curmudgeonly of education reformers?  We might not want to say it out loud, but some may actually want to consider that Reading First and our emphasis on scientifically based reading instruction has actually worked” –  Patrick “Eduflack” Riccards

Glass Half Empty

“It is very disappointing to see flat scores at the high school level, but they should not surprise any of us….Huge numbers of high school students have not been challenged to read much that is beyond middle school level in difficulty and complexity. Too many students in middle school are allowed to read whatever they want in the name of “engagement.” It hasn’t worked. These flat scores are a serious warning: we need a substantive English curriculum from grades 6-12 ­ for all students. ” — Sandra Stotsky

“Overall, this report is further proof that we must do better. While it’s good news that younger students are making meaningful gains in reading and math, it’s deeply troubling that many high school students are not” — U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA)

Glass Deep Enough to Drown In

“The latest Long Term Trends…reveal a productivity collapse unparalleled in any other sector of the economy.  Anyone who points to the slightly higher scores in the early grades as cause for celebration is missing the point. What parents care about is that their children are well prepared for higher education and future careers at the end of their secondary education. The fact that scores have risen somewhat in the early grades means little since those gains evaporate for the vast majority of students by the time they graduate” — Andrew J. Coulson