April 28, 2009
Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten
On Results of
National Assessment of Educational Progress Trends
Math and reading scores continue to rise slowly but steadily, according to results released today by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in "The Nation's Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress in Reading and Mathematics 2008." Scores for various age groups and racial/ethnic groups generally are on the rise as well, though scores for African-American, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students remain below the overall average.
WASHINGTON—We applaud America's educators, parents and students for the impressive results found in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) long-term trend results released today.
The results describe a continuing rise in student achievement. Compared with the results from when these reading and math tests were first given nearly four decades ago, the 2008 results show statistically significant increases for 9- and 13-year-olds overall, and for African-Americans, Hispanics and whites among 9-, 13- and 17-year-olds. Through 2008, African-American and Hispanic students in all age groups had greater gains than white students in both math and reading, and these findings too are statistically significant.
Despite substantial long-term progress in closing achievement gaps, especially in math, stubborn gaps remain for poor and minority students. We have an economic and moral obligation to improve education and social supports dramatically for these students. To do so, we need strong core standards for what students should learn, and a comprehensive education system that includes guides for teachers, model lesson plans, pre-service teacher education, in-service professional development, conditions and materials that are conducive to teaching and learning, and appropriate textbooks—all based on common standards.
We also need to recognize that schools can do only so much to offset the effects of poverty. We must address out-of-school factors such as access to early childhood education, after-school programs and healthcare as part of any serious effort to provide equal educational opportunities for all children.
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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.