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Statement by Secretary Spellings on History and Civics Reports Released by the Nationís Report Card


In response to the release of The Nationís Report Card: U.S. History 2006 and The Nationís Report Card: Civics 2006, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said the following:

For the past five years, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has focused attention and support on helping students become stronger readers. The release today by The Nationís Report Card on U.S. History and Civics proves NCLB is working and preparing our children to succeed.

The reports offer further indication that our nationís achievement gap continues to narrow: our lowest-performing students are making the greatest gains, particularly in the early grades. The U.S. History report reveals increased scores in all three grade levels and a narrowing achievement gap between both white and black students and white and Hispanic students in the 4th grade since 1994. Likewise, the Civics report indicates improved scores for our nationís 4th grade students and points to a narrowing gap between white and Hispanic younger students.

These results are a testament to what works. As studentsí skills in reading fluency and comprehension strengthen, so does their ability to do well in other subject areas. While critics may argue that NCLB leads educators to narrow their curriculum focus, the fact is, when students know how to read and comprehend, they apply these skills to other subjects like history and civics. The result is greater academic gains.

I believe that oneís ability to read is the key that unlocks a world of knowledgeówhether history, civics, or any other subjectóthat will sustain our readers throughout their lifetimes. Just last month, my department released positive data on the effectiveness of the Reading First program. It showed significant improvement in the reading proficiency of our nationís first-, second-, and third-graders. I have no doubt that as more young students enhance their reading skills and apply them to other subjects in later grades, they will more fully realize the promise that a strong foundation in reading holds for success in their academics and beyond.


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