October 2, 2008

No Child Test Results Said to Improve

Washington-area students from poor families show improved reading and math scores under the No Child Left Behind law, a newspaper analysis indicated Thursday.

This suggests the controversial standards-based education reform for U.S. primary and secondary schools is closing the gap between poor students and those from middle-class and affluent backgrounds, the Washington Post said.

In Washington, D.C., where most public school students come from low-income homes, reading and math scores have risen since the 2006 debut of new district-wide tests, the Post analysis showed.

Still, fewer than half the students passed the spring D.C. exams, the analysis found.

In suburban Montgomery County, Md., students living in poverty earned better scores on state reading tests every year since 2003, halving the 28 percentage-point gap that separated their pass rate from the county average, the newspaper said.

The students also improved their math scores.

Other Maryland and Virginia counties also showed improvements, the newspaper said, but concerns persist about the law's emphasis on standardized tests.

But many educators say the nearly 7-year-old law has forced them to focus systematically on each struggling student.

"As much as I'd say I wish we didn't have to necessarily take these tests, I know it's made us better," Loudoun County, Va.'s Sugarland Elementary School Principal Angela Robinson told the newspaper.