July 14, 2009
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On the National Center for Education Statistics' Report on Achievement Gaps
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) today released a report finding improved math and reading achievement for African-American and white students, a slight narrowing of achievement gaps between the two groups, and little improvement in eighth-grade reading.
WASHINGTON—Good, but not good enough-that's the bottom line of the report released today by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report, "Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress," finds that at the fourth and eighth grades, in both subjects, the nation's African-American and white students scored higher in 2007 than in the early 1990s. The results are a credit to the hard work of parents, educators and students.
But we also must recognize where we are falling short. The achievement gap persists-even as scores of all subgroups rise-and we must take steps to address the relatively small improvement in eighth-grade reading scores. Narrowing the gap requires developing strong core standards for what students should learn, accompanied by tools and resources for teachers. Research shows that a content-rich curriculum can have a positive effect on reading achievement for middle school and high school students. And, because schools alone cannot eliminate achievement gaps, we need a broad agenda to address poverty, and innovative ideas such as community schools, which provide wraparound academic, healthcare and social services for students and their families.
The AFT is encouraged by today's results and is committed to doing whatever we can to ensure our public schools help every child fulfill his or her potential.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.