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EdWeek's recent NAEP test results story (Test Gains Reigniting Old Debate) does a good job exposing the ritualized response that follows the release of NAEP scores as various folks try and make sense of the results (and, often, bolster their cause).
How big were the gains, and were they attributable to -- or in spite of -- the focus on reading and math that has come with NCLB and Reading First? Not surprisingly, the Administration takes the view that all good things stem from NCLB, while others -- social studies advocates, for example -- aren't so sure that federal programs have helped with any but the most basic results. Meanwhile, time for social studies has declined a half hour per day since 1998, and time for reading has increased by an hour.