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[Susan notes: Three cheers. As always, Steve points out things reporters should have noticed.]

Submitted to New York Times but not published

To the editor

Re: “Schools Slow in Closing Gaps Between Races,” Nov.


Assistant Sec. of Education Johnson claims that “as a

whole student performance is improving” thanks to No

Child Left Behind (NCLB). The claim is based on an

increase in fourth grade reading scores on the NAEP

test from 1999 to 2004. As the Times notes, in 2004

NCLB had been in effect only one year.

It should also be pointed out that children taking the

tests were fourth graders, and few, if any, had been

subjected to NCLB’s Reading First instruction. Also,

the 1999-2004 analysis is based on “trend” scores,

equivalent tests given in 1999 and 2004. A look at the

regular NAEP tests suggests that the jump occurred

between 2000 and 2002, before NCLB and Reading First.

The administration has wasted over $100 billion on

NCLB, and now they want to waste more and extend NCLB

to high schools. This is good news for test and

workbook publishers, but bad news for students and for


Stephen Krashen

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