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The Fact Checker: Obama's 2011 State of the Union address

- Glenn Kessler

"Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation."

President Obama made expansive claims in his speech about the impact of Race to the Top, his $4.35 billion grant program. Launched in 2009, it is at the core of his education agenda.

Is Race to the Top "the most meaningful reform" of schools in a generation? Some might argue that the 2002 No Child Left Behind law enacted under President George W. Bush should get such a nod. That law required for the first time that public schools test all students in reading and math every year in grades three through eight and once in high school.

Parents and teachers across America have strong opinions about all of that standardized testing and what it has done to public education. It marked a huge expansion in assessment and the birth of a culture of school accountability.

What is certain is that the Bush-era law set in motion a cascade of actions to close student achievement gaps that the test scores revealed in greater detail than ever before.

- Nick Anderson


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