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Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 12:17pm

Georgia Students Make Modest Gains in Reading

A report released Wednesday analyzed reading comprehension scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and indicates Georgia elementary and middle school students made modest gains in 2009.

The NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, showed 63 percent of Georgia’s fourth-graders scored at basic proficiency or better, while 66 percent of fourth-graders scored at the same rate nationally. Seventy-two percent of the state’s eighth-graders scored at basic proficiency or better. Across the U.S., students at the same grade level scored 74 percent.

The reading assessment was last administered in 2007. Nationally, scores for eighth-graders are up one point from two years ago but have remained unchanged at grade four. In the state of Georgia, eighth-graders are up a point since 2007 scoring 260, on average, on the assessment’s 500-point scale. The state’s fourth-graders dropped a point to 218.

The most significant difference is between 2009 and 2005 when 58 percent of the state’s fourth-graders scored at or above basic proficiency, compared to 64 percent nationally. Sixty-seven percent of the state’s eighth-graders scored at or above basic proficiency in 2005, compared to 73 percent nationwide.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox said in a statement that Georgia’s improved curriculum and the state’s renewed focus on reading education can be credited for the improvements. Georgia students in grades 4 and 8 took the NAEP exams in reading last school year. The students who were tested had been taught using the state’s new Reading/English Language Arts curriculum for four years.