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Spellings Has No Trouble Getting a Letter into the Times

Corporate Politicos like Margaret Spellings can have a letter in any major newspaper any time they want. People presenting facts contradicting them are rarely given this opportunity. Here, Stephen Krashen answers Secretary Spellings latest disinformation in the New York Times.

by Margaret Spellings

Truly No Child Left Behind
Letters, NY Times
I reject Diane Ravitch's statement that the No Child Left Behind Act's goal of every child at grade level by 2014 is "unattainable" ("Get Congress Out of the Classroom," Op-Ed, Oct. 3). Instead of debating whether it's reasonable to expect children to learn fundamental skills, we should be cheering them on.

Since No Child Left Behind became law, students have reached all-time highs on our nation's report card, and achievement gaps have narrowed. More New York City schoolchildren are performing at grade level than ever before.

The law rightly leaves standard-setting to local parents and policy makers, asking only that schools collect and publish progress data. When students of one race or income level fall behind, it provides tools to help them improve, including the choice to transfer to better-performing schools or enroll in free tutoring.

I doubt that the parents of the 500,000 children who have received these services see them as "onerous sanctions," as Ms. Ravitch does. No Child Left Behind is about improvement, not punishment, and it's working.

Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Education

Sent to the New York Times by Stephen Krashen

Education Secretary Spellings is either disingenuous or badly misinformed when she states that since No Child Left Behind became law, students "have reached all-time highs on our nation's report card" ("Truly No Child Left Behind," Oct. 10). The significant increases in national reading test scores happened before NCLB was implemented. Also, gaps between high and low-income children have not narrowed. In the most recent study of the impact of NCLB on test scores, Bruce Fuller and colleagues concluded that "earlier test score growth in reading has largely faded since the enactment of NCLB" and "progress seen in the 1990's in narrowing achievement gaps has largely disappeared in the post-NCLB era."

Stephen Krashen

Studies of the impact of NCLB:

1. "Gauging growth: How to judge No Child Left Behind?", by Bruce Fuller, Joseph Wright, Kathryn Gesicki, and Erin Kang, Educational Researcher 2007 36: 268-278.

2. "Selling NCLB: Would You Buy a Used Law From This Woman?," by James Crawford, available at

3. "Did Reading First Work?," by Stephen Krashen,


4. "Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-Depth Look Into National and State Reading and Math Outcome Trends," by
Jaekyung Lee, published in 2006 by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.

5. "NCLB: No Impact on State Fourth Grade Reading Test Scores," By Stephen Krashen

— Margaret Spellings, with comment by Stephen Krashen
New York Times



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