Some states got the hint, such as Mississippi, which soon reported that, even with a couple of years left on its Five Year Plan for Educational Awesomeness, 89% of Mississippi 4th grade readers were already Proficient/Advanced. Whether the governor of Mississippi also invited President Bush and Senator Kennedy to float in state down the Mississippi and see all the thriving new schools that he had erected on the banks of that mighty river is lost in the mists of history.
Unfortunately, while Bush and Kennedy were at it, they forgot to abolish the federal National Assessment of Education Progress test, which has gone on reporting that reading test scores have just kept on keeping on. From today's Washington Post:
Reading scores stalled under 'no child' law, report finds
... progress nationwide has stalled despite huge instructional efforts launched under the No Child Left Behind law.
The 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that fourth-grade scores for the nation's public schools stagnated after the law took effect in 2002, rose modestly in 2007, then flatlined. ...
The national picture for eighth-grade reading was largely the same: a slight uptick in performance since 2007 but no gain in the seven years when President George W. Bush's program for school reform was in high gear. ...
When Bush signed the law, hopes were high for a revolution in reading. Billions of dollars were spent, especially in early grades, to build fluency, decoding skills, vocabulary, comprehension and a love of books that would propel students in all subjects. The goal was to eliminate racial and ethnic achievement gaps. But Wednesday's report showed no great leaps for the nation and stubborn disparities in performance between white and black students, among others.
Another way to look at it is that we're actually doing pretty good. With demographic riptide running in the wrong direction, just staying in the same place is a tribute to a lot of hard work.
Other notes: the white-black gap in 4th grade reading scores is by far the largest in the most liberal jurisdiction, the District of Columbia. Nationwide, it's 25 points, but in DC it's 60 points. The next biggest white-black gaps for 4th graders are in Minnesota (35 points) and Wisconsin (35). The smallest white-black gaps are in West Virginia (12 points -- dumb whites), New Hampshire and Vermont (few blacks), and Pentagon-run schools (need a 92 IQ to enlist).
Indeed, DC has by far the highest scoring white kids (15 points ahead of Massachusetts). It's black students are no longer the lowest scoring, being four points ahead of Wisconsin. (The worst scoring black 4th graders are in the socially liberal Old Northwest: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. This is probably due in part to high welfare payments and easy eligibility requirements in the 1960s attracting the most feckless Southern blacks.)
Unfortunately, there aren't enough white 8th graders in DC public schools for the NAEP to come up with an adequate sample size of white 8th graders in DC.