According to the government, federal spending on K–12 education has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, but student performance has stayed essentially the same. Hence, former President George Bush signed into law the No Child Left behind Act, a bill that promised improved student achievement for all U.S. children. Chance (Fall 2003) reported on a graphic that was designed to support the legislation. The graphic, obtained from the U.S. Department of Education Web site (www.ed.gov), is reproduced here. The bars in the graph represent annual federal spending on education, in billions of dollars (left-side vertical axis). The horizontal line represents the annual average 4th-grade children’s reading ability score (right-side vertical axis). Critically assess the information portrayed in the graph. Does it, in fact, support the government’s position that our children are not making classroom improvements despite federal spending on education? Use the following facts (divulged in the Chance article) to help you frame your answer: (1) The U.S. student population has also increased dramatically over the past 20 years, (2) 4th-grade reading test scores are designed to have an average of 250 with a standard deviation of 50, and (3) the reading test scores of 7th and 12th graders and the mathematics scores of 4th graders did improve substantially over the past 20 years.
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