More results from NCLB are in and, not surprisingly, the results point to an administration that overtly chooses to place a positive spin on those results even when no such connection can be asserted. The administration, and specifically President Bush, has been singing the praises of the NCLB legislation as the most recent scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show increases (although not necessarily significant increases) in reading and math among 9 and 13 year old school children.
President Bush likes to cite the “long-term-trend” NAEP as proof that the No Child Left Behind Act is working. The gains are significant only for 9- and 13-year-olds in math and 9-year-olds in reading. What’s more, the gains fall into a five-year testing window, and only two of those years occurred after the law took effect.
Although the results for 9-year-olds on the reading test are positive, researchers say they can’t be linked to the law. The testing window extends back to 1999—three years before President Bush signed the NCLB legislation into law and even before he was president.
The president displays a profound misunderstanding of the way in which statistics are interpreted. His view is not uncommon among the vast majority of the population with little or no training in statistical analysis. But, Mr. Bush has advisers that are fully capable of making appropriate inferences based on the numbers they see and they choose to adopt a populist stance, one that turns in their own favor, because they know that the audience they are trying to reach are as ignorant about the meaning of the numbers as is their boss. Clearly, this administration operates under the assumption that a lie told often enough soon looses its status as a lie and becomes the truth. Shame on the rest of us for falling victim to these lies.