Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Georgia students show gains on national exam

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4:33 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Georgia students improved in three out of four subjects tested on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), but continue to trail the national average in most areas, according to results released Tuesday.
Known as the nation's report card, the NAEP is given to a sampling of fourth and eighth graders across the country and is one of the few exams offering a snapshot of how students compare from state to state.
Georgia students have shown considerable improvement since 1990, but still lag behind their peers nationally in every subject except fourth-grade reading. Still, state leaders consider the latest results good news because scores increased from 2009 in three of four subjects -- fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade reading.
"The fact that our students showed improvement on a test with a nationally set-cut score is encouraging and demonstrates that Georgia's students are making great strides in competing with the rest of the nation," State School Superintendent John Barge said in a statement.
Georgia's improvement is attributed to the introduction of a tougher curriculum. Barge said he expects scores will continue to increase as the state rolls out a national curriculum know as the Common Core.
The test was given earlier this year to about 422,000 fourth-graders and 343,000 eighth-graders nationwide. Results are only available at the state level, although scores for 21 urban districts including Atlanta will be released later this year. Writing and science scores will be released in 2012.
Nationally, scores were up in every subject except fourth-grade reading, where they were flat. David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board and a former Massachusetts commissioner of education, said the nation has been making substantial gains in math, while reading scores have been slower to improve.
"The improvement in mathematics achievement undoubtedly reflects the success of math instruction in our schools because math is almost exclusively a school subject taught almost entirely in math classes — although Sudoku and some computer games may be helping," he said. "It is quite different for reading, where the achievement that NAEP measures also reflects how much children read outside of school and the reading demands across the curriculum, not just in reading classes or English language arts."

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