I just received a copy of the Center for Education Policy's study on the effects of whether the emphasis on "proficiency" is short-changing higher- and lower-achieving students, and the results are fairly simple to understand:
- Student achievement in reading and math, as measured by the percentages of students reaching various achievement levels, has generally increased across the board since 2002.
- The proficient-and-above level–the target for NCLB purposes–show the greatest gains.
- At the basic-and-above level, most states also made gains.
- The advanced level showed more upward than downward trends as well.
- Although achievement improved at all three grade levels analyzed, there were fewer gains at the high school level than at the elementary or middle school level.
- CEP found no strong evidence that NCLB's focus on proficiency is shortchanging students at the advanced or basic levels.
In other words, NCLB is working in U.S. schools. Are there more issues to be addressed than uniform testing? Of course. There are dozens and dozens of issues to address about improving our nation's public schools, but here is evidence that something has happened in our schools in the past eight years that's having a positive, measurable impact.