Report Card shows little gain in U.S. students’ math, reading scores

April 10 (UPI) — According to the Nation’s Report Card, released Tuesday, U.S. eighth-grade students were the only ones to improve their math or reading scores in the last two years.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, which issues the research every two years, published its latest report Tuesday. It examines academic performance for fourth and eighth graders, which are considered key benchmark points in student education.

According to the report card, eighth-graders’ math scores remained flat but the group gained 1 point in reading, for an average score of 267 out of a possible 500, according to the data.

The gain was the only significant increase made by any grade group, the NAEP said.

The assessment shows roughly one-third (34 percent) of U.S. eighth-graders and 40 percent of fourth-graders showed proficiency in reading and math in 2017 — a trend that’s remained since a jump in scores in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the last report in 2015, that figure was 25 percent for 12th graders.

All reading and math scores, however, are higher than they were in the 1990s.

For reading, fourth-graders showed 37 percent proficiency and eighth-graders 36 percent.

At the state level, Florida showed increases in math in both grades and a boost in eighth-grade reading.

“Florida leaders, administrators, and, most importantly, teachers are to be commended for their continued efforts on behalf of students,” U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “Florida has been at the forefront of bold, comprehensive education reform for decades. … Florida is rethinking education.”

Louisiana, New Hampshire and South Carolina posted decreases in both subjects in both grades — and Alaska and Vermont in math at both grades.

“Today’s release of The Nation’s Report Card confirms that there is still much work to be done,” Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said.

“While several states demonstrated progress in improving student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps, it is clear we as a country must do better by all of our students, especially our lowest-performing kids.”

The research, which explores performance of students from a national sample, also breaks down progress ethnicity with results showing racial disparities — as African American students were out-performed by their white peers at both grade levels.

Miller said the report card demonstrates a call to action for a renewed commitment to create a more equitable education system for every child.

“The results are clear: We can and we must do better for America’s students,” DeVos added. “Our nation’s reading and math scores continue to stagnate. More alarmingly, the gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite billions in Federal funding designated specifically to help close it.”