Arne Duncan isn’t quite the miracle worker Barack Obama made him out to be, according to a new study from a Chicago civic group. When Obama introduced his nominee for education secretary, he boasted that Duncan had boosted elementary school test results “From 38% of students meeting the standards to 67%” as head of Chicago’s public schools. But after adjusting for changes in test scoring and procedures, the rate actually grew a mere 8%, the study found.
That’s because, like many states, Illinois has lowered passing scores in response to No Child Left Behind. Obama also claimed that Chicago’s dropout rate dropped throughout Duncan’s tenure, and that Chicago’s ACT score gains were double the rest of the state. Both are technically true, but Chicago’s non-selective-enrollment schools still have a dropout rate of 50%, and scores remain below the rest of the state.