According to the 2005 “Nation’s Report Card” released by the U.S. Department of Education today, the nation’s 8th graders are reading at slightly lower levels than the 8th graders who took the test two years ago. In 28 states and the District of Columbia, average scores fell from 2003 levels; 12 states showed slight improvement (of between 1 and 3 points on a 500 point scale); and 11 states’ scores were flat. (For a state-by-state breakdown on the 2005 NAEP results, visit the Alliance for Excellent Education’s website at https://all4ed.org/about_the_crisis/schools/map and click on the name of your state.)
Governor Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, observed:
“Reading is the heart of learning, and the nation is in the literacy emergency room showing a flat line on the education EKG. The results, nationally and for each state, clearly demonstrate that we still are not doing what is needed to help our older students build the reading skills they will need to deal with increasingly complex high school courses. Twenty-nine percent of the country’s 8th grade students are reading significantly below grade level and thee are the kids who are most likely to drop out of high school or graduate without the skills needed to succeed in college or the workplace. Only 29 percent of students are actually reading at grade level or above.
“For the most part, we stop teaching our children how to read when they leave third grade, and expect that they’ll continue to expand vocabulary and comprehension skills on their own. That’s like a builder laying the foundation of a house and leaving the buyer to put up the walls and roof without help. The investments made in early grades to teach our kids to read are critical, but we must continue to intervene throughout their school years to assure that they are maintaining and expanding the literacy skills that are so necessary for success in life.”
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Today, results of the 2005 reading and math assessments were released, with national and state-level scores for students in grades 4 and 8.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education, and success in life. It is funded by the Leeds Family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Daniels Fund, as well as by other concerned foundations and individuals.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.