WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to the National Assessment of Educational Progress Report Card:
“The biggest change we see here is not much change at all—and that’s a problem. Twenty-nine states still spend less on education than before the Great Recession. Fifty years ago, when robust, focused investments in our schools were this country’s top priority, unlike now, we saw changes like faster growth and more significant gains in the way our students were achieving. But today’s NAEP numbers are a reflection of a very different model: When we under-resource our public schools and divest in high-quality public education, our kids suffer.
It’s very disappointing that gaps between high and low scorers are trending in the wrong direction. In the 1970s and ’80s, following school desegregation and War on Poverty-era investments, we saw an increase in scores for African-American and Latino kids and a narrowing of the gap between white students and students of color. Those gains for students of color have since leveled off. We lived through the NCLB era of test and punish, and we know that states are spending less overall on public education. So, of course, we see gaps related to poverty, race, ethnicity, and where kids go to school. Without resources to manage class size, improve classroom experiences, implement meaningful curricula, and enhance teachers’ skills and resources, we can’t expect the numbers to be the ones we want to see for our children.
“This assessment of where we are is simply a measure, not a strategy for how we do better. We must remember that NAEP sets a performance benchmark for ‘proficient’ that would be considered quite high achieving based on the international assessment scores of the highest achieving countries. Strategies that prioritize children’s well-being, powerful learning, teacher capacity, and collaboration across the board will be what move the needle, and what actually prepare our children for school and beyond.’’