The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

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The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

NAEP’s 2011 National Report Card Shows Overall Lack of Progress in Closing Achievement Gaps

December 5, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Despite some signs of progress nationally on improving student reading and math skills, racial, ethnic and income-based achievement gaps persist, according to analysis of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.”

The gap between the reading scores of White and Black students in grades four and eight in 2011 was 25 points and did not vary significantly from 2009. Between White and Latino eighth graders, the gap narrowed slightly from 24 points in 2009 to 22 points in 2011.

In fourth grade mathematics, the White-Black and White-Latino gaps narrowed in twenty of the thirty-five participating states, while in eighth grade reading scores, the gaps narrowed in only three of thirty-one states. Achievement gaps in eighth grade mathematics and fourth grade reading between higher- and lower-income students have widened in several states since 2003.

NAEP results are reported as average scores on a scale of 0 to 500 and are broken down by three achievement levels: basic, representing partial comprehension of the skills and knowledge needed for proficient work; proficient, representing solid academic performance; and advanced, representing superior work.

The percentage of students who performed in the bottom bracket was relatively unchanged since 2009. Roughly one-third of fourth graders and one-quarter of eighth graders continue to read below the basic achievement level on the 2011 Nation’s Report Card, while nearly one-fifth of fourth graders and one-third of eighth graders perform below basic in mathematics.

The 2011 national report shows there is still much work to be done to close achievement gaps and increase achievement levels of all students in states across the country. Later this week, the results for the 2011 Reading and Mathematics Trial Urban District Assessment will be released, which will reflect the scores of a large portion of students and provide a richer data set with which to compare scores.

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