SACRAMENTO, California— Recently released nationwide education data could be seen as less significant, depending on the U.S. Senate decision on federal education law revisions.
On 1 November 2011, the Department of Education released the 2011 Nation’s Report Card for math and reading under the National Assessment on Educational Progress (NAEP) project, revealing this year’s national and individual state’s statistics for 4th and 8th grade math and reading scores.
While 2011 results mostly show student progress nationwide, the U.S. Senate is debating revisions to the federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which requires students to be proficient, or competent, in their grade level math and reading by 2014.
Revisions would relax some of the standards, giving states more power by making the federal government less involved in monitoring all schools and rather have it focus its energy on schools performing in the extremely poorly.
Supporters of the current NCLB law, including the Obama administration, feel that revisions will result in states not accurately monitoring educational needs; while critics of the current law feel it forces teachers to focus on math and reading proficiency testing instead of offering students a well-rounded education.
The bill including the revisions was passed in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on 20 October 2011 and is being discussed in the full Senate.
If the revised NCLB law passes, what will the next Report Card for math and reading look like?
NAEP math, reading 2011
Statistics for the National Report Card on math and reading were gathered using 209,000 4th graders and 175,200 8th graders for math results, as well as 213,100 4th graders and 168,200 8th graders for reading results.
Student performance is rated as basic, meaning partial mastery of required skills; proficient, meaning competence in required skills; or advanced, meaning superior performance in required skills.
The NAEP report shows that 4th and 8th grade students nationwide are performing better in math this year than they did in 2009, while 8th grade students nationwide are performing better in reading this year than they did in 2009.
Also, more 4th graders nationwide are at advanced math levels than they were in 2009, while more 8th graders nationwide are at advanced reading levels than they were in 2009.
“The improvement of mathematics achievement undoubtedly reflects the success of math instruction in our schools,” Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), the board running the NAEP project, Mr. David Driscoll wrote in a statement. “It is quite different from reading, where the achievement that NAEP measures also reflects how much children read outside of school.”
Students coming from families with low-income levels, indicated in the Report Card by eligibility for reduced priced or free lunches, are also performing better this year than they were in 2009.
Asian students scored highest in both subjects out of all racial or ethnic groups surveyed: Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Black, Hispanic, Native American/Other Pacific Islander, or Two or more races.
However, at the state level, results are not always as high as national statistics.
California 4th grade students are performing at lower levels in math and reading than 4th graders nationwide, yet have progressed in performance since 2009.
For California 8th grade students, math and reading performance is also lower than their counterparts nationwide; however, while California 8th grade students have progressed in math performance since 2009, they have digressed in reading performance.
Students eligible for reduce price or free lunches in both grades are performing at lower levels in both subject areas than students not eligible for such lunches.
On 14 October 2011, the Viễn Đông reported that Iowa Democrat Senator Tom Harkin and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions had introduced a bill including revisions to the NCLB law.
“We need to update this law to make sure that every child receives a great education,” Senator Harkin was quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “We’re moving into a partnership mode with the states rather than the federal government.”The bill was voted out of the committee 15-7 and is expected to receive a vote in the Senate by Thanksgiving 2011, as well as a vote in the House possibly by Christmas 2011.