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Reading Scores Rising, Along With Achievement Gap

White and Asian students make minimal improvement, while minority students aren't improving.

In 2005, only 36 percent of high school seniors in the U.S. taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test scored proficient or better in the subject. It was a historic low. But, according to the results of the 2009 NAEP tests, it may prove to be a nadir.

On last year's exam, 38 percent of students rated as proficient in reading. While the trend is moving in the right direction, the percentage of proficient students still lags behind 1992 levels. Scores were up in math, rising from 23 percent to 26 percent.

In reaction to the data release this morning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a sobering reaction, saying essentially that the results still indicate that our children's abilities aren't yet up to snuff:

Today's report suggests that high school seniors' achievement in reading and math isn't rising fast enough to prepare them to succeed in college and careers. ... President Obama has set a goal that the United States once again will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the end of the decade. In a survey that accompanied the NAEP test, 86 percent of seniors said they expect to graduate college.
Perhaps more alarming than the lack of a greater uptick in scores is that they indicate a widening in the achievement gap. White and Asian students improved since 2005, but, according to a press release (PDF): "Reading scores did not change significantly among Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native students, or for female students, since 2005."
So, does that mean that while we're slowly beginning to fix our education system overall, we need to heed the warning that we might still be failing to address those populations who are in greatest need of our help?
Photo (cc) via Flickr user rachel sian\n

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