This excerpt is from the New York Times:
Academic standards vary so drastically from state to state that a fourth grader judged proficient in reading in Mississippi or Tennessee would fall far short of that mark in Massachusetts and South Carolina, the United States Department of Education said yesterday in a report that, for the first time, measured the extent of the differences.
The wide variation raises questions about whether the federal No Child Left Behind law, President Bush’s signature education initiative, which is up for renewal this year, has allowed a patchwork of educational inequities around the country, with no common yardstick to determine whether schoolchildren are learning enough.
Spellings, however, still basking in the glow of the CEP report touting slight gains in test scores, continues to play the role of a clown in the Orwellian circus going on at ED with her latest mantra, "The law has struck a chord of success."
Someone needs to tell her the chord is nothing more than a sour note.
The differences between state proficiency standards were sometimes more than double the national gap between minority and white students’ reading levels, which averages about 30 points on the national test, Mr. Whitehurst said.
Many education experts criticize No Child Left Behind, saying it gives states an incentive to set low standards to avoid sanctions on schools that do not increase the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency each year. Those experts argue that uniform national standards are needed.
But Congress is unlikely to go that far. Ms. Spellings said, “It’s way too early to conclude we need to adopt national standards” and added that it is also too early to conclude that state standards are too low.
On Tuesday, a survey of state scores in reading and math, released by the Center on Education Policy, an independent Washington group, found that since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2002, student achievement had increased and the racial achievement gap narrowed in many states.
Ms. Spellings said the results showed the law has “struck a chord of success.” Her department’s report, though, raises doubts about just how much progress has been made.
Mr. Petrilli said, “Even if students are making progress on state tests, if tests are incredibly easy, that doesn’t mean much.”