ATLANTA — Most of the 16 Southern Regional Education Board states saw gains in reading achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) among fourth-graders, eighth-graders or both, according to results released today.
Seven SREB states saw gains in the percentage of fourth-graders scoring at or above the NAEP Basic level in reading from 2007 to 2009: Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Kentucky and Mississippi had the nation’s largest gains in this category, at 4 percentage points each, trailing only the District of Columbia. Four SREB states met or exceeded the national percentage scoring at Basic or above for fourth-graders. Many SREB states had seen major gains in fourth-grade reading in recent years. .
Nine SREB states saw gains in the percentage of eighth-graders scoring at or above the NAEP Basic level from 2007 to 2009: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Kentucky had a 6-point gain for eighth-graders in this category — the nation’s largest. Florida had a 5-point gain, the nation’s second largest. Five SREB states met or exceeded the national percentage in this category. The SREB median states trailed the national percentage scoring at Basic or above by 1 point, narrowing the gap since 2007.
Ten SREB states also saw improvements in the percentages of fourth- and eighth-graders scoring at or above the NAEP Proficient level, which is higher than the Basic level. Mississippi had the nation’s second-largest gain in fourth-grade reading at the Proficient level, with 4 points. Kentucky had a 5-point gain at the eighth-grade Proficient level, the nation’s second largest.
Average scale scores for fourth-graders in NAEP reading rose in only three states in the nation in 2009, including one SREB state — Kentucky. Of the nine states nationally in which average scale scores increased for eighth-graders, three were SREB states: Alabama, Florida and Kentucky, all of which have adolescent reading programs. SREB highlighted the promising work in these states in last year’s major report, A Critical Mission: Making Adolescent Reading an Immediate Priority in SREB States, which recommends policies that states can use to improve reading through high school.
"The latest NAEP results show progress in reading achievement across the region. But SREB states need to give even more attention to helping students read at higher levels in the middle grades and high school if more students are to prepare for college and careers," said Joan Lord, SREB’s Vice President of Education Policies. "Many SREB states have made a good start, but all states need to make reading a top priority and teach more advanced reading skills through high school."
The Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is taken every two years by a representative sample of students in every state and is the best comparative student achievement data available. Students score at Below Basic, Basic, Proficient or Advanced levels. The Basic level indicates partial mastery of grade-level work, and Proficient indicates demonstrated competence on grade-level work. Many SREB states are working to raise their academic standards closer to the Proficient level from closer to the Basic level.
The SREB Challenge to Lead Goals for Education, approved by a commission of leaders from 16 states, call for achievement in the early and middle grades for all groups of students to exceed national averages.
For more information about NAEP results and efforts to improve students’ reading skills in your state, contact SREB Communications.
The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. More information is available online at www.sreb.org.