Students lag in reading on ‘nation’s report card’

Posted Friday, Nov. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Last year, the headline about test scores on “the nation’s report card” read: “Texas 8th-graders gain.”

This year, it might read: “Stopped for no gain.”

Scores are about the same as two years ago, meaning Texas has fallen farther behind at a time when performance nationwide is on the upswing.

The Texas Education Agency struggled for a positive take, announcing that fourth- and eighth-grade math scores remain higher than the national average.

But neither score has improved significantly in 10 years.

And it’s downright sad that the state education agency’s announcement celebrates that Texas’ fourth-grade math score is “higher than those in 12 states.”

Even a fourth-grader knows that means our scores are the same as or lower than in 37 states.

The TEA found better news in various testing subgroups:

• For African-American students, Texas ranks in the top five nationally in math in both grades tested.

• For Hispanic students, now the majority in schools, Texas ranks in the top 15 nationally in math, and both grades score better than students nationwide overall.

But Texas’ overall reading scores remain below national levels.

The state’s fourth-graders scored worse in reading than in 2011. Eighth-graders improved slightly but still trail the national score.

The fast-growing population of young Hispanic elementary school students is not keeping pace in reading. Scores for Hispanic fourth-graders, already below average, were down 4 points from 2011.

In the face of lower-than-average spending and recent budget cuts, Holly Eaton of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association praised the continued excellent performance among African-American students in math.

“That we’ve done as well as we have is a testament to the hard work of teachers and students,” she told the Texas Tribune.

The stagnant fourth-grade scores offer yet another argument for prekindergarten programs like the one Fort Worth voters approved this week.

The city of San Antonio recently passed a sales tax to fund its own $248 million pre-K program.

The goal is to get Texas’ children learning sooner, and get back to gaining ground.

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