The Corner

Show Your Work

One of the major criticisms of the No Child Left Behind Act is that it encourages states to dumb-down their tests so that more students can pass them. Last week’s news that kids’ scores on state tests are up thus hardly proves that NCLB is working. I’d expect the Washington Post’s editorialists to understand this basic point. And they do !

It’s troubling that the gains students show on state tests are not mirrored in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The latter, the “national report card,” showed some gains, most notably in math, but there is no match with the state tests. Perhaps some of the difference is attributable to the difference in nature of the two tests. Still, it’s clear, as was documented in a report this week from the U.S. Education Department, that there are wide and unacceptable disparities in state standards. That some states watered down their standards to make it easier to reach NCLB goals for student proficiency is a huge failing of the law.

So how can they claim that the state test scores offer a “resounding yes” to the question of whether student achievement is increasing?

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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