A few weeks ago, I wrote about our schools’ “secret success.” Simply stated, poor and minority students are achieving at dramatically higher levels today than they were two decades ago—in some cases two or three grade levels higher. And while we can’t be sure what led to this academic acceleration, test-based accountability was probably the most important factor. Or so I argued.
But the plot thickens, because these national averages mask state-by-state differences that are quite instructive, too. See, for example, this chart from Matt Ladner, a longtime Goldwater Institute education analyst who now works for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. It examines NAEP gains over a shorter six-year period—2003 to 2009—for kids eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.