Sam Dillon reports in today’s NY Times that the feds have released a comprehensive study which suggests that the so-called achievement gap between white and minority students has not significantly narrowed under No Child Left Behind. While test scores have risen slightly, they have risen slightly among all racial groups, leaving the gap untouched.
This might suggest that the slight rise in test scores over the life of NCLB has been due primarily to the emphasis on testing itself, rather than any significant innovations in instruction. It certainly can’t be tied to any increase in funding support from the Bush administration’s USDE under Margaret Spellings or Rod Paige.
Dillon makes an important point:
Although Black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all scored much higher on the federal test than they did three decades ago, most of those gains were not made in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s. That was well before the 2001 passage of the No Child law, the official description of which is “An Act to Close the Achievement Gap.”
The fight for social justice, not bureaucratic accountability measures, seems to have had the biggest impact on improving learning among black and hispanic children.