The Education Department's highly anticipated national test scores for 4th- and 8th-graders show modest improvements in math, but flat scores in reading. Many educators have said the 2007 results would, for the first time, show whether No Child Left Behind is having an impact.
The tests show that since 2005, U.S. students have made slight gains in math, and even smaller gains in reading — just one point for 8th-graders.
The results are seemingly little to cheer about for supporters of the law that has pumped billions of extra dollars into the nation's schools since President Bush signed it five years ago.
Under No Child Left Behind, from 2002-2007, reading scores for all groups, except Asian-American students, have remained flat. And although the poorest readers appear to be doing slightly better overall, there's been no significant change in the percentage of students reading at or above grade level.
Only three states — Florida, Hawaii and Maryland — and the District of Columbia registered meaningful gains in reading in both 8th and 4th grades. Thirty states showed no change in either grade.
In a conference call with reporters, U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings put her own spin on the small gains since 2005.
"Obviously we're pleased with the results," Spellings said. "We have work to do, no doubt about it, but it's a very affirming day for the standards and accountability movement."
Spellings also seemed impressed with the modest decrease in the gap between white and black students in reading, a gap that continues to hover at about 30 points.