States are moving in the right direction in narrowing achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students, but not fast enough

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Publication date: 
October 14 2004 (All day)

(Washington, DC) – Student achievement in reading and math is rising in the elementary grades in most states, and achievement gaps are narrowing, according to a new report released today by the Education Trust. But in many places, the pace of these gains must accelerate dramatically if all students are to meet state standards by 2014.

“While our analysis offers some positive news about the power of the No Child Left Behind Act to get educators focused on closing achievement gaps, it demonstrates that this law itself is not the substantive reform we need,” said Ross Wiener, policy director of the Education Trust.

“Education continues to be one of America’s top priorities,” he said. “But we don’t always act like it. Real change will come only when we take the practical steps needed to provide high quality educational opportunities to all students.”

This study, the Education Trust’s first comprehensive analysis of student achievement on state assessments since enactment of NCLB, finds that:

    -- Of the 24 states with at least three years’ worth of comparable state assessment data, math achievement has improved in 23 states since 2002. Math performance declined in one state.

-- Of the 23 states that had at least three years of reading data, achievement increased in 15. Reading performance declined in five states and remained the same in three.

 -- Although statewide achievement results broken down by race and ethnicity are available in fewer states for all three years, we see a narrowing of gaps in most of these states. The African American-White gap, for instance, shrank in 16 states in reading and 17 states in math. The Latino-White gap narrowed in 14 states in reading and 16 in math.

“These gains are a credit to the hard work of educators, and they show that big gains are achievable,” Wiener said. “While these increases are important, they are not enough. Policymakers and educators can and must do more to ensure that all children receive the quality education to which they are entitled.”