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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NCLB Aiding Test Scores?

This may be true according to an article in today's Times. It says that, according to test results, the achievement gap may be narrowing and student achievement is rising. From the article,

"Conclusions were drawn from states that administered comparable tests for at least three years. Gaps in the data meant that not all states were included in evaluations of certain subjects and grade levels. The study found that gains tended to be larger in math than in reading and larger at the elementary level than in middle and high school."

Comparable tests? There's 50 different tests so I'd like to know if some states mimic each other and so can be called comparable tests. Also, the last sentence reenforces what we see in the WASL results, namely, rising scores in reading and writing at the elementary levels.

Again from the article:

"The study also found that 14 of 38 states with sufficient data showed shrinking gaps in reading scores between black and white students and that there was no evidence of a widening achievement gap in that subject in other states. The researchers cautioned that the gaps remain enormous, with black students scoring as many as 30 percentage points, on average, behind white students in some states. The analysis also found that test-score gains accelerated after enactment of No Child Left Behind in nine of the 13 states with sufficient data.

Some scholars criticized the report's methodology. Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said it made little sense to draw conclusions when so few states have adequate data. He also said the researchers overstated small gains and did not adequately address states that he said have been dumbing down standards."

I think is is troubling that there are only 14 states with sufficient data to compare. I also think that the issue of how closely tests match up both in how they are given and scored as well as what material is covered needs to be addressed before anyone pops the champagne corks. There may be forward progress but it's just not enough data to say it's working.

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