Bruno: Add NAEP Increases To Debate Over FL Rating System
Matt Di Carlo and Matthew Ladner are having a back-and-forth on the virtues of Florida's state-level accountability system that's fascinating, if wonky, reading.
In a comment here Di Carlo goes so far as to say Florida's system is "the worst I've seen", and Ladner counters that "[g]iven the large improvements in NAEP scores for disadvantaged Florida students [since 1999], if Florida has 'the worst' system, I’m eager to see the best."
They both make some good points, but because Ladner references rising NAEP scores for the Sunshine State's disadvantaged students, this is a good opportunity for me to make one of my favorite points. Namely, any strident criticism about status quo education policy needs to be reconciled with the fact that the last decade or so has actually been really good for the NAEP scores of traditionally disadvantaged groups of students nationwide.
Even if, like Di Carlo, I'm somewhat skeptical about the causality in Florida, Ladner definitely points to some good news there for low-income students. However, I want to emphasize that the tide has been rising all across the country. Here are the average scale score gains on NAEP tests for a variety of demographics since the 2003 administration:
Given that those numbers are, generally, pretty positive, I think we should be cautious about making arguments to the effect that this or that NCLB-era policy has been a "catastrophe" or "disaster". Yes, maybe things would be somewhat better had we continued with the status quo of the 1990s, but we're not exactly slipping into an educational dystopia, either.
Now, I understand that those score increases began well before the NCLB era, and may even have slowed slightly. So the flip side of this is that claims about the indispensability of NCLB-type reforms should be taken with a grain of salt as well.
In fact, one possibility we might want to consider more carefully is that even major-seeming education policy changes like NCLB aren't, on balance, quite as big of a deal as we are inclined to believe. (And I'm including myself, here.) - PB (@MrPABruno) (Image source)