U.S. Students Make Slight Progress on Test Scores

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from NCPA,

Amid the sluggish progress nationwide, a few areas notched drastic improvements on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, with Tennessee and Washington, D.C. — as well as schools on military bases — the only ones achieving statistically significant gains on all tests, says the Wall Street Journal.

– Fourth- and eighth-graders across the country made modest advances in national math and reading exams this year, but proficiency rates remained stubbornly below 50 percent on every test.

– Washington gained a cumulative 23 points since 2011, while Tennessee posted a 22-point jump — both compared with a four point national gain. The exams are scored on a 0-500 scale.

The scores are a big improvement over results when the exams were first given, in the early 1990s. But the slow progress prompted fresh calls for a more rapid remaking of public schools, which are under fire from some business leaders, policymakers and politicians for failing to keep students on a level footing with international peers.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called the scores “encouraging” but said they don’t show the “transformational progress” needed to prepare students for a competitive global economy.

Hope Harrod, a fourth-grade teacher at John Burroughs Education Campus in Washington, D.C., says she has noticed a focus in the last three years on helping teachers identify effective classroom strategies, including sharing videos of top-notch teaching. “It’s refreshing to get the chance to have such laser-focused discussions about how we can get better,” she says.

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