Sandy Kress has spoken and written on many occasions about the substantial gains our nation's students, especially low income students and students of color, have made on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 1999-2009. "This period of substantial gains," Kress has noted, "coincided with the peak of the accountability movement in America." "It was during this decade," Kress has said, "that a commitment to standards, measurement, and consequences for results flowered as a principal policy at both the state and federal levels."
Sandy Kress now warns that a scaling back on accountability since 2009, as manifested in a loosening of pressure at the federal level and softer expectations in the states, appears to be contributing to a stall in achievement gains. "As my friend, Margaret Spellings, noted in a Washington Post column," Kress said, "fourth grade NAEP math scores rose 14 points from 2000-2009, but only 2 points over the next four years."
"This apparent stall," Kress continued, "seems evident as well in data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)." "US students made gains in math and science of 13 points on PISA in 2009 but fell back in 2012," Kress pointed out.
Sandy Kress asserts, "there was much wringing of hands in the press when the recent PISA results showed our students in the middle of the pack internationally." "But what was tragically missing in the public discussion," Kress concluded, "was the reality that had our students made the same gains in 2012 in math and science that they made in 2009 the US would have been among the top performers among the nations."
According to Sandy Kress: "I fear we are losing forward motion for our students as we back off of our commitment to holding ourselves accountable for student results. If we find this stall becomes a flat or even downward trend over the next several years, shame on us all for letting it happen."