updated 10/14/2004 4:54:30 PM ET 2004-10-14T20:54:30

Math and reading scores are rising in some states, but not as fast as envisioned under the No Child Left Behind law, a nonpartisan education group says in a new study.

The Education Trust examined only those states that had three years of comparable data on their Web sites dating to 2002, when President Bush signed the education law.

For example, the study did not include states that significantly changed their tests during that time.

But the group could not confirm that all the states it included had refrained from lowering their passing scores, which could artificially inflate progress.

Of the 24 states with comparable math data, 23 improved in math since 2002. Of the 23 states that had reading data over the three-year period, 15 reported gains.

The law deserves some credit for creating attention and urgency about the need to close achievement gaps, said Ross Wiener, policy director for The Education Trust.

“I think it’s important for people to see these images of places where it is working out better for kids,” he said. But he also criticized Bush’s enforcement of parts of the law, such as a promise that poor and minority children will get more high-quality teachers.

The law calls for all students too reach state standards in reading and math by 2014. The current pace of progress is too slow to meet that national goal, the report found.

The review also found that most of the states are narrowing the test-score gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers, a central mission of the law. Yet in at least a few cases, those gaps closed because the performance of white students declined.

Variable achievement
What counts as achievement in one state may not in another because the states set their own tests and definitions of what qualifies as “proficient” under federal law. Some states base their passing score on a basic level of achievement, while others demand more.

Questions about the law, its enforcement and its funding dominate the education debate.

As recently as Wednesday’s presidential debate, Bush said the law has stopped schools from just shuffling through children who live in cities or who are limited-English learners. “We’re beginning to close a minority achievement gap now,” Bush said.

Democratic challenger John Kerry said Bush broke a promise by spending much less on No Child Left Behind than allowed under law, “and that makes a difference in the lives of children.”

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments