Education Research vs. Rhetoric during Congressional Hearings on No Child Left Behind

           by Tim D'Emilio, 1/4/07

1.  What are the Department of Education’s Information Quality (IQ) Guidelines?

The Department’s Information Quality Guidelines (IQ Guidelines) are a set of standards to ensure that the information ED makes available or disseminates to the public is accurate, reliable, useful, and of high quality.1  

2.  What is the Secretary of Education testifying before Congress about the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind legislation?

“We’ve made more progress in the last five years than the previous 28 years.”2 

3.  What does the Department of Education’s research establishment 3 report about student progress in the last 18 years (from its first assessment in 1992)?

The average reading scores of fourth- and eighth graders, evaluated by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), increased by two points between 1992 and 2005.4

The percentage of fourth-graders performing at or above proficient in general academic achievement on the national assessment between 1992 and 2002 increased from 29 to 31 percent, and has remained steady since.  In 2005, 31 percent of eighth-graders performed at or above proficient.

The relative good news is in math.  The average NAEP math scores of fourth-graders increased 25 point from 1990 to 2005 (213 to 238), and the average score of eighth-graders increased 16 points, “…but this still leaves 65 percent of U.S. students below proficient in 2005.  [Math] achievement by twelfth grade students has remained fairly constant over time for all groups.5

The principle selling point for No Child Left Behind has been its potential to reduce the achievement gap for minorities.  NAEP results indicate that the achievement gaps in reading among white, black and Hispanic fourth- and eighth-graders have shown little measurable change.   Beyond race, a strong negative association exists in grades 4 and 8 between a state’s average NAEP math scores and its percent of students eligible for school lunch (correlation coefficient = -0.80 and –0.82).6

[1]  Questions and Answers:  Information Quality Guidelines,

[2]  Washington Post, Thursday, January 4, 2007; p. A-10

[3]  The National Center for Education Statistics, 2006 Condition of Education:

[4] Except otherwise indicated, data were extracted from a summary in the Washington Post, Tuesday, November 21, 2006; p. A8.


[6] Ibid.