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NCLB Outrages

'No Child' law credited for Hispanic gain

Watch her nose grow.

WASHINGTON - Hispanic students are catching up to Anglos in reading and mathematics, mainly because of the No Child Left Behind Act, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said Thursday.

"In states across the country, this law is working," Spellings said at a conference on the education needs of the Hispanic community. "Scores are rising, and the achievement gap is already starting to close."

The improvement was evident in recently released test scores in Maryland, Georgia and New York state, Spellings said.

"Without this laser focus on the needs of Hispanic kids and special-ed kids, I'm confident we wouldn't have these gains," Spellings said.

Some education experts said it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the federal law, which went into effect in 2002. Only a few states have reported test scores this year, and last year's scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the only test given to students across the country, will not be released until mid-July.

"To say it's all due to No Child Left Behind I think is very premature," said Daniel Kaufman of the National Education Association. "To really ensure that we have permanent long-term gains, it's going to take a lot more than testing kids and sanctioning schools."

The No Child Left Behind law requires schools and states to make annual progress in reading and math so all students can perform at their grade level by 2014. It also requires states to report test scores by sex and race.

Texas has already released its 2005 test scores. They show that although Hispanics still lag behind Anglo students, they have made small gains toward closing the gap on the reading and math exams known as TAKS, or Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

More than 40 percent of the students in Texas public schools are Hispanic.

In Texas, the percentage of Hispanic sixth-graders who passed reading and math tests between 2003 and 2005 increased more than the percentage of Anglo students.

About 80 percent of Hispanics passed the reading test this year, compared with about 60 percent in 2003.

The percentage of Anglo students who passed this year was 93 percent, up from 85 percent in 2003.


— Alexis Grant
Houston Chronicle


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