Success has a handful of admirers

Two weeks ago we noted, "Success has a thousand fathers and many will try to claim credit" for the good news about rising NAEP scores (see here). Last week we ridiculed the many organizations that "tied themselves in knots" to claim responsibility for the improvement (see here). The summer heat must be making Gadfly lightheaded, because we're back to cheer a hat trick of articles that give credit where credit is due. USA Today's editorial board described the progress of 9-year-olds on NAEP as "dramatic" - perhaps a bit overstated - but recognized the standards-and-accountability movement as the major driver of the progress so far. (It also rightfully called out the National Education Association and Harvard's Civil Rights Project for their shameful silence in the face of palpable gains in student learning.) The Economist provided a fair assessment (along with a wonderful cartoon) acknowledging President Bush's limited but important role: "Mr. Bush's act may be very new. But the ideas that lie behind it - focusing on basic subjects such as math and reading and using regular testing to hold schools accountable - have been widely tried at the state level since at least the mid-1990s. Mr. Bush deserves credit for recognizing winning ideas thrown up by America's 'laboratories of democracy' and then applying them at the federal level." Debra Saunders, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, follows the same line of argument and credits Bush with jumping "on the right horse" as governor of Texas, and then president. Of course, before galloping off into the sunset we still have a lot of work to do, especially in the middle and high school grades, where, as all three articles explain, education progress still goes to die.

"No lessons left behind," editorial, USA Today, July 20, 2005

"Now for the good news," The Economist, July 21, 2005

"Dubya's school reforms pay off," Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2005