Children entering first grade in 2013 had significantly better reading skills than similar students had in 2001. Researchers say this means that in general, children are better readers at a younger age. While Common Core has been widely derided the Bush administration program the Obama White House supplanted, No Child Left Behind, succeeded well in hindsight. Studies have shown girls achieved parity with boys on math scores due to No Child Left Behind while the gap closed in minorities.
Yet the following administration declared that it led to "high-stakes testing" and too much pressure on kindergarten students. It also led to earlier reading proficiency. Two influential national reports released in the 2000s (the National Reading Panel in 2000 and the National Early Literacy Panel in 2008) urged changes in reading instruction. Both of those reports, as well as the No Child Left Behind law, led to an increased emphasis on learning important skills related to reading achievement in preschool and kindergarten,
The study involved 2,358 schools from 44 states. A total of 364,738 children were assessed during the 12 years of the study. This included 313,488 low-achieving students who were selected to participate in Reading Recovery, a literacy intervention for first-grade students. Another 51,250 randomly selected students from the same schools also participated.
All children were tested at the beginning of first grade, before the Reading Recovery students began their intervention program.
Students took a screening test called An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement. The survey measures four basic skills (letter identification, word recognition, ability to identify and use sounds and print awareness), as well as two advanced skills (writing vocabulary and text reading).
The results showed that average scores on all six parts of the test increased over the 12 years, suggesting that many children end kindergarten with the skills they used to learn in first grade.
No Child Left Behind was designed to give everyone the fundamentals and narrow socioeconomic gaps. It did that, though predictably the gap in advanced skills still widened. You can't regulate success, you can only limit it with regulations. In the four basic skills, low-achieving students narrowed the achievement gap with other readers. But in the two advanced skills -- including actually reading text -- the gap widened.
In a few years we will need if Common Core performed as well.