WASHINGTON- The report card is in and American children are making sweeping gains in math and more modest improvements in reading,national assessment results showed Tuesday.
Children in the fourth and eighth grades have improved in math and reading assessments since 2005 while math scores have been on the rise since testing began in 1990,according to the National Assessment Governing Board.
“The gains in mathematics reflect a broad change in culture and the effort to teach mathematics more rigorously in our schools,” said board member Kathi King. “The gains reflect a commitment that has extended over many years.”
The so-called 2007 National Report Card is administered by the U.S. Department of Education based on data collected from over 700,000 students. It is aimed at helping assess levels of education state-to-state.
Some board members were reluctant to credit the steady increase in math and modest rise in reading to the No Child Left Behind law,but said the 2002 reform did help. A goal of the No Child Left Behind law is to shrink the test score gap between white students and minority groups,especially blacks and Hispanics.
“Parents and educators should be encouraged by this progress,but achievement gaps remain too large,and are a continuing challenge that demands our full attention,” said Darvin Winick,chair of the bipartisan governing board.
The report shows there is a current white-black score gap of 27 points among fourth graders for reading. While that is the smallest gap ever recorded,board members would like to see it shrink further.
“Closing the achievement gap more quickly is the major challenge of the next three to five years,particularly in the large states' minority student populations,” said David Gordon,a member of the board and school superintendent for Sacramento County,Calif.
Among Hispanic eighth-graders,reading and math scores were up 3 points from 2005 and 19 points from 1990.
“Substantial improvement in reading achievement is still eluding us as a nation,” said Amanda Avallone,a member of the board.
Avallone,a Colorado English teacher,said gaps in reading achievement have persisted for the past 15 years,by race,income level and gender.
Some key findings in reading:
– Reading skills are particularly improving among fourth- and eight-graders in lower- and middle-performing students.
– Reading scores since 2005 increased in six states and declined in two. Increasing were Texas,Florida,Maryland,District of Columbia,Vermont and Hawaii. Declining were North Dakota and Rhode Island.
– Female students scored seven points higher than males in fourth grade and 10 points higher in eighth grade.
Some of the key findings in math:
-The average score for fourth-graders increased 27 points over the past 17 years,and the score for eighth graders increased 19 points over the passed 15 years.
-Scores rose since 2005 for white,black and Hispanic students,with the white-black differential narrowing for eighth graders
-Student performance in all income groups increased since 2003