Quoting from the Wikipedia:

Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.

Diane Ravitch is a prolific writer who continues to work to improve the educational system in the United States. She is quite critical about what has been done in the past and what is currently being done to improve schools. The following is quoted from her recent blog entry (Ravitch, 4/12/2018).

Education Week reports that [National Assessment of Educational Progress] NAEP results are flat, with few exceptions. The billions squandered on annual testing and Common Core Gaps produced meager change, especially for those already at the bottom.

Achievement gaps widened.

With so little change, it is time-past time-to give serious attention to rethinking the federal testing juggernaut that began with No Child Left Behind, intensified with Race to the Top, and continues with the so-called Every Student Succeeds Act. The latest national results show that many children have been left behind, we are nowhere near "the top," and every student is not succeeding.

In short, the federal policy of standards, testing, and accountability is a train wreck.

It is past time to stop blaming students, teachers, and schools, and place the blame for stagnation where it belongs: On nearly 20 years of failed federal policy based on failed assumptions.

Education Week reports:

"Across the board, struggling American students are falling behind, while top performers are rising higher on the test dubbed the "Nation's Report Card."

"A nationally representative group of nearly 585,000 4th- and 8th-graders took the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2017, the first time the tests were administered digitally. The results, released Tuesday, show no change at all for 4th grade in either subject or for 8th graders in math since the tests were last given in 2015. Eighth graders on average made only a 1-point gain in reading, to 267 on the NAEP's 500-point scale." [NAEP, 2017.]

"That meager gain in reading was driven entirely by the top 25 percent of students. During the last decade, 8th grade reading was the only test in which the average score for both high and low performers rose. By contrast, in math, the percentage of students performing below basic (30 percent) and those performing at the advanced level (10 percent) both increased significantly since 2007. The same pattern emerged in 4th grade math and reading."

Comment from David Moursund

The education of a child begins before birth, and we know that significant brain and other damage can be caused during pregnancy by a mother’s use of various drugs, poor nourishment, ill health, and so on.

After birth, a child learns from input provided by its senses. Growing up in an environment that is safe, physically supportive, and cognitively “rich” all contribute to the child’s education. We know that, on average, there are huge differences in physical and cognitive development between children who grow up in “good” environments versus those who grow up in “poor” environments. These differences are quite evident well before children begin their formal schooling in kindergarten or first grade. These differences are exacerbated by the quite large differences we see in the quality of the schools that children attend.

Of course, all of this has been known for many years. Governments at the federal, state, and local levels all make efforts to improve the outcome of pre-birth to adulthood education. We have a significant amount of research on what works. As Diane Ravitch and many other people repeatedly point out, we are doing a relatively poor job of implementing the improvements that we know make a positive difference.

What You Can Do

First, reassure yourself that it is vitally important to all of us that we improve the education of all of our children. Second, keep yourself informed about the actions being taken locally, statewide, and nationally to improve education. In particular, pay attention to what research and time tell us about what is working and what is not working. Third, become more involved. Don’t just complain. Do things that you think will help!


Moursund, D. (1/4/2018). Larry Cuban: Retrospective look at 2017. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/25/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html.

Moursund, D. (2/22/2017). Student homelessness in the United States. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/23/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/student-homelessness-in-the-united-states-1.html.

Moursund, D. (5/2/2014). Hungry children—America’s shame. IAE Blog. Retrieved 4/24/2018 from http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog/entry/hungry-children-america-s-shame.

NAEP (2017). The nation’s report card. National Assessment of Educational Progress. Retrieved 4/24/2018 from https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/.

Ravitch, D. (4/12/2018). NAEP results: Scores mostly flat, gaps widen. Diane Ravitch’s blog. Retrieved 4/23/2018 from https://dianeravitch.net/2018/04/10/naep-results-scores-mostly-flat-gaps-widen/.

Sparks, S. (4/10/2018). Nation's report card: Achievement flattens as gaps widen between high and low performers. Education Week. Retrieved 4/23/2018 from