For Immediate Release
NAEP Results Produce More Evidence of NCLB's Failure;
Thorough Overhaul of Federal Law an Imperative for Obama Administration and Congress
BOSTON - Despite billions of dollars spent on a test-and-punish
approach to school "reform," today's National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP) report provides more evidence that the
Child Left Behind Law (NCLB) is a failure. With few exceptions, across
age groups and two subjects, the rate of improvement slowed compared
previous period while gaps between blacks and white as well as
whites ranged from widening to unchanging to slightly closing.
"NCLB is demonstrably unable to produce sustained and
significant improvements even on a standardized test in the two
which it focuses, reading and math. It also fails to make a real dent
wide gaps between whites, African Americans and Latinos," said Monty
Neill, Ed.D., FairTest's Deputy Director. "It is time to completely
overhaul this educationally destructive law. The Forum on Educational
Accountability has produced a blueprint to rewrite the law to focus on
improving schools not just inflating state test scores." Neill chairs
Forum, whose Joint Organizational
Statement on NCLB is endorsed by 150 national education, civil
religious, disability, parent, labor and civic groups.
Since NCLB, state test scores have typically increased, but
NAEP results have failed to show similar increases. "This is a clear
that schools are pressured to narrow curriculum and teach to the state
That inflates state test scores but the inflated scores don't mean real
learning has improved," explained FairTest's Lisa Guisbond. "NCLB has
proven to be counter-productive. The Obama administration and the
take the necessary steps to craft helpful, not harmful, federal
Numerous research reports have shown NCLB has led to narrowed
curriculum, teaching to the test, organizational chaos, educator
and other educational damage. Public opinion surveys have shown
public dislike of the law and strong opposition to the law's emphases
testing and sanctions.
Summary of results
from the NAEP 2008 Long Term Trend report, released April 28, 2009
Age 9 reading: reading scores did go up 4 points from 2004
to 2008, but they went up 7 points from 1999 to 2004 (more than 1.5
points/year). That is, the rate of improvement has slowed substantially
NCLB took hold compared to a period when at most NCLB might have had
impact at the very end of the period (2003-04). This tendency is common
subjects and age levels.
reading gap closed 3 points (statistically significant) while the
Hispanic-white gap closed 4 points, also statistically significant.
the Hispanic-white gap closed 7 points from 1999-2004, and the
closed 9 points from 1999-2004, about three times as fast. That is,
racial gaps keep closing, the rate of closure has slowed dramatically.
there have been score gains for blacks and Hispanics, but the rate of
improvement for both groups slowed in the 04-08 period compared with
Age 13 reading: scores rose modestly but were approximately
level with the scores of the early to mid 1990s.
black-white gap closed 4 points from 2004-2008, but that gap closed 7
from 1999-2004. The Hispanic-white gap actually widened by 2 points
2004-08 after widening one point in the 99-04 period. Actual scores
improved for blacks, but not for Hispanics.
Age 17 reading: again, scores gained modestly, but in this
case they have not returned to the higher levels reached from the late
through the 1990s.
black-white gap widened by 2 points from 2004-08 after narrowing 2
1999-2004; and the Hispanic-white gap widened by 4 points from 04-08
widening by 5 points from 99-04, with NCLB failing to reverse a
The black-white gap remains far wider than it was at its narrowest, in
and black scores are still below their 1988 peak. The same is true for
Hispanics, with 1999 their peak year and the smallest gap with whites.
Age 9 math: the largest gains in the past were from 1986-90
(8 points) and 1999-2004 (9 points) - both 2 points per year gains.
4-point gain from 2004 to 2008 averages only 1 point per year, showing
improvement rates have declined in age 9 math since NCLB took hold.
2004-08, the black-white gap widened by 2 points and the Hispanic-white
remained unchanged, with no changes being statistically significant.
Age 13 math: in the five-year span from 1999 - 2004 NAEP
rose 5 points, or 1 point per year. In the four years under NCLB, from
2008, NAEP gains were only 2 points, or half the rate of improvement in
to 2008, the black-white score gap closed 2 points and the
gap remained unchanged, with no changes being statistically
Age 17 math: score have been essentially flat and are now
slightly lower than the previous high point in 1999, prior to NCLB.
gap closed one point from 2004-2008, while the Hispanic-white gap
two points, with no changes being statistically significant.
The NAEP results are at http://nationsreportcard.gov/
with links to overall trends and trends by racial groups.