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* Did NCLB raise fourth grade NAEP scores?

Posted By: Stephen Krashen on September 14, 2006
Shanahan and Hynd-Shanahan claim that “A decade of NAEP test scores and trend data show that the energetic response to the reading needs of primary children has been successful. The nation’s nine-year-olds are doing better than ever … “

There was an indeed an increase from 1999 to 2004 in fourth grade NAEP scores, from 212 to 219. This is “trend test data” and the years between 1999 and 2004 are not included in the analysis. NCLB, the “energetic response,” was not introduced until 2002-2003. It is therefore not clear that the “energetic response” deserves the credit.

Regular (“main NAEP”) scores, in fact, suggest that the jump happened before NCLB, between 2000 and 2002:

1999 = 212
2000 = 213
2002 = 219
2003 = 218
2005 = 219

Regular NAEP scores are not considered appropriate for comparisons, only trend scores are, but this data suggests that NCLB was not responsible for gains between 1999 and 2005. (Note that the trend and regular scores were the same in 1999, and the 2004 trend score is very close to the 2003 score and identical to the 2005 score.)

Shanahan and Hynd-Shanahan also claim that the “increase” is “especially true for groups that have lagged far behind in the past.” Again, examination of NAEP scores does not support this:

The differences in NAEP reading scores between children eligible for free or reduced lunch and those not eligible are nearly the same in 2005 as they were in 2003.

For fourth grade reading:
2003: high poverty mean = 201, low poverty = 229; difference = 28
2005: high poverty mean = 203; low poverty = 230; difference = 27.

Again, these are regular and not trend scores and must be considered suggestive, but there is no evidence that NCLB has been of special benefit to low-income groups.

Stephen Krashen
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 Did NCLB raise fourth grade NAEP scores? by Stephen Krashen on September 14, 2006  * 
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