The Dukes of Hazzard isn't the only Southern revival this summer: the recent NAEP scores show southern states accelerating faster than the General Lee. As Christian Science Monitor reporter Gail Chaddock points out, "While 9-year-olds in the Northeast gained 10 points in reading achievement (the equivalent of a grade level) over the past 30 years, the South gained 24." What's the explanation? Strong leadership (think Bill Clinton, Lamar Alexander, Dick Riley, Jim Hunt); tough accountability; and the persistent work of the Southern Regional Education Board (see below). But longtime Fordham readers shouldn't be surprised; way back in 2000 we anticipated as much in our State of State Standards report. As we said at the time about the South's strong showing (four of five honor grades came from the region): "Many Southern states have been less smugly complacent about the performance of their public schools and, politically speaking, are sometimes less beholden to the forces of the 'education establishment' that wield so much clout in chillier climes." That's no less true today.
"Why the rise in pupils' test scores? The South," by Gail Russell Chaddock, The Christian Science Monitor, August 5, 2005
"South Posts Big Gains on Long-Term NAEP in Reading and Math," by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo and Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, July 27, 2005