America’s Report Card Demonstrates Mixed Results

U.S. Students Show Math Gains, but Reading Scores Continue to Lag

by Max Lien, age 16

    In 2011, elementary-school students in the United States scored well in math, continuing a 20-year trend of improvement. On the other hand, reading scores showed only minimal improvement.
In fact, a standardized test given every two years by the U.S. Department of Education reports the least amount of progress in reading scores since 1992.
    Eighth graders who took the test only scored an average reading score of 265 in 2010 compared to an average score of 260 in 1992. However, the average score in math for eighth graders in 2010 was 284, which was a significant increase from 1992. Moreover, forty percent of students scored high enough to be “proficient” in math, whereas only one third of students scored “proficient” in reading.
    These tests are called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and the results are often referred to as “the Nation’s Report Card.” According to some observers, the increases in math scores are a reflection of successful classroom instruction and intensive practice. Reading skills, however, are improved both by reading outside of school as well as how it is taught in subjects such as history and science, according to David Driscoll, the chairman of the board that oversees this test. “Reading instruction is a shared responsibility,” he said.
    “Literacy is the building block to all learning and you have to build a love for reading the minute they [students] walk in the door,” said Doris Hicks, principal of a New Orleans charter school where 98 percent of students are low-income.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]

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