Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dissecting the gains

The Miami Herald's Mary Sanchez is jazzed at the narrowing of the achievement gap. And why not? There does appear to be some progress happening.

But she makes some very good points that many other NCLB cheerleaders miss:

The Bush administration is busy taking credit, crediting No Child Left Behind. The administrative self-congratulations is a little early.

Most of the reforms that affected the younger kids began at the state level prior to the implementation of the much-debated No Child Left Behind. That said, the every-child focus of NCLB might just be the monitoring device to ensure that these gains continue.


Further, she gives credit where credit is really due:

So the usual commentary that surrounds the education of minority children -- disproportionately in inferior schools, underfunded, least qualified teachers, less engaged parents, outdated materials -- let that subside for a moment and give the kids and the teachers who taught them their due.

All the pundits, analysts, and politicos in the world don't teach the kids to read and write. Teachers do. And students have to work to succeed. So before any politician or policy wonk takes credit, let's give the ones who really make it happen the credit they deserve.

Sanchez also cites the Education Trust's point that 13 year olds made barely any gains and 17 year olds made none at all. Teaching reading and writing to elementary students is only part of the equation; making schooling relevant and compelling for middle and high school students is the other.

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