Ya'll Can Relax And Breathe Deep
I think this is so far a number of reasons.
1) The process of raising scores for your lowest achieving students requires a general improvement in all school functioning, the kind of rising tide that lifts all boats.
2) One can focus on more than one student group.
3) If my district is any indication of larger trend, schools just aren't agile enough in the use of data to provide different educational opportunities to different groups of students, as defined by student data. The idea that schools are capable, on a large scale, of providing structural and instructional differentiation seems far-fetched.
Now, Eric will agree with these results, but point out that the tests do not accurately measure the kind of higher order thinking skills and work product, and that performance in these areas might very well be in decline without our being aware of it. And Nancy will assert that while some poor kids are becoming better art critics, affluent kids are becoming artists. To which I reply, all this may be so, (or it may not be) but this study is a strong refutation to the kind of charge frequently laid at the NCLB doorstep, a charge that is increasingly baseless.
**I never really thought I'd be linking to the Hoover Institute, unless it was under the heading feckless thugs, but strange times make for strange bedfellows.