National reading, math scores shoot up

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The latest national reading and math scores from Washington show "encouraging" gains over test results from two years ago, and they are well above student performance levels in the early 1990s, federal school officials announced Thursday.

Eighth-grade reading scores from a federal assessment known as the "Nation's Report Card" are generally up among ethnic and racial groups -- blacks and Hispanics -- as well as whites and Asians, federal authorities added.

New York was among states where the latest round of testing showed modest improvement over 2011 in both reading and math at the elementary and middle-school levels. Statewide math scores, which tumbled two years ago, recovered this year.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he was especially heartened that eighth-grade reading scores nationwide improved both this year and in 2011, after flattening out for nearly a decade.

"It is encouraging to see progress in tough economic times, when so many state and local communities have struggled with significant cuts to their education budgets," Duncan said.

Duncan's aides cautioned, however, that 12th-grade scores have remained generally stagnant. Some independent analysts point to lack of improvement at the high-school level as evidence that American teens continue to fall behind their counterparts in countries such as Canada, Germany, Finland and Japan.
Test scores released Thursday are from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federally funded program run by a bipartisan governing board.
Tests in reading and math were administered in January through March to representative samples of fourth- and eight-graders totaling hundreds of thousands. Results were collected for the nation and all 50 states.

Two conservative university researchers, Paul E. Peterson of Harvard and Eric Hanushek of Stanford, underscored the national debate over assessment results in a statement released Tuesday before Washington authorities announced their own findings.

"The NAEP shows that even children of college-educated parents have not been competitive internationally," Peterson and Hanushek said.