WASHINGTON—Although the NAEP results are a mixed bag, particularly the gap between this test’s outcomes and the outcomes of the state standardized exams, still there is a lot to learn from the districts that are heading in a positive direction.
Clearly, curriculum and good teaching matter. The path to improved achievement is through a standards-based, content-rich curriculum and relevant professional development for teachers, not filling in bubbles on a test.
Districts such as Atlanta are making marked progress because they use a strong curriculum, and teachers are getting the right resources, training opportunities, and the time to work with their colleagues and students. The wisest decision Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee made was keeping the previous chancellor’s curriculum model. Also, acknowledging Detroit’s low achievement levels, the Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier this year insisted on a reform-based contract even as it agreed to salary sacrifices during these tough economic times.I thank our teachers for all their hard work, especially during these challenging times, and applaud the kids’ tremendous efforts.