Published in the Wall Street Jouranl Nov. 17, 2013
The Heisenbergian Distortions in Measuring Education
Paul E. Peterson and Eric A. Hanushek's "Spinning America's Report Card" (op-ed, Nov. 8) claims that No Child Left Behind was responsible for a big improvement in National Assessment of Educational Progress, scores, because scores went up between 2000 and 2009.
Paul E. Peterson and Eric A. Hanushek ("Spinning America's Report Card," op-ed, Nov. 8) claim that No Child Left Behind was responsible for a big improvement in National Assessment of Educational Progress scores because scores went up between 2000 and 2009. But nearly all the gains in reading took place before NCLB was implemented. NAEP fourth-grade reading scores climbed from 213 to 219 between 2000 and 2002, accounting for most of the eight-point gain between 2000 and 2009. No Child Left Behind was signed into law in January 2002. There was no gain at all in eighth-grade reading scores between 2000 and 2009.
"Test Scores Show Small Gains" (U.S. News, Nov. 8) says that "only 42% of fourth-graders" scored at the "proficient" level. Testing experts have been pointing out for years that the term "proficient" on the NAEP really means "superior," and the results are better than they sound.
The original version of this letter contained this sentence as well:
Gerald Bracey noted in 2007 that the terms used for the NAEP achievement levels have been rejected by the Government Accountability Office, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and the Center for Research on Evaluation, Student Standards and Testing.