Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/186307
WASHINGTON — Students are doing better on state reading and math tests since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted five years ago, according to a report Tuesday.
Students made the most progress on elementary school math tests, according to the report by the Center on Education Policy, a national nonprofit policy group.
The report focused on states where trend data are available. Some states have changed tests in recent years, making it impossible to compare year-to-year results.
The report found moderate to large gains in 37 of the 41 states with trend data on the percentage of kids hitting the proficient mark on elementary school math tests. None of the states showed comparable declines.
A goal of No Child Left Behind requiresall kids to be proficient in reading and math, or working on grade level, by 2014.
Another goal is to narrow achievement gaps between children from low-income families and wealthier ones and between minorities and white students. The new report found gaps have narrowed since the law was passed.
Specifically, the study found that, in 14 of 38 states, gaps narrowed on reading tests between black and white students at the elementary and secondary levels. No state reported a comparable widening of the gap.
In math, a dozen states showed a narrowing racial achievement gap at the elementary and secondary grade levels. Only Washington state showed a widening of that gap.
Results were generally similar for Hispanic and low-income groups, according to the report.
Researchers were unable to effectively analyze student assessment scores in Arizona because of changes to the definition of "proficient" under the state's accountability test, called Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards. Limited to scores from 2005 and 2006, the findings were not favorable.
The Center on Education Policy found that math and reading scores declined in most grade levels from 2005 to 2006. Only fourth-grade students improved in math and reading.
Researchers were unable to measure the gap among low-income, special education or English-Language-Learner students. Grouping students by race, no gap consistently narrowed or widened across grades four, eight, or 10 in reading or math, the report states.
George B. Sánchez
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