Reports of significant gains in reading and math among the nation's youngest test takers have set politicians and education interests scrambling to take credit.

The scramble slowed hardly at all on the realization that middle-school students showed only modest gains and that high-school students showed almost no progress, with some of the older groups actually showing declines, according to an analysis of federal test results released by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) July 14.

The test, known as the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), or the Nation's Report Card, is widely regarded


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