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Reason Foundation

Out of Control Policy Blog

NCLB is NOT Closing Achievement Gap

Lisa Snell
April 29, 2009, 12:57pm

As Sam Dillon at the New York Times reports:

The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency.

Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased, but so did those of white students, leaving the achievement gap stubbornly wide, despite President George W. Bush’s frequent assertions that the No Child law was having a dramatic effect.

Although Black and Hispanic elementary, middle and high school students all scored much higher on the federal test than they did three decades ago, most of those gains were not made in recent years, but during the desegregation efforts of the 1970s and 1980s.

In conclusion, billions in federal spending has not improved scores for high school students or improved the achievement gap over the last thirty years. President Obama continues to act as if the federal government can spend its way to higher student performance. I remain skeptical that the next $100 billion will do the trick.


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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