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Education Report Highlights Progress

Education Report Highlights Progress
Under Standards-Based Reform By States

By Ronald Roach

According to a recent study, Black and Hispanic fourth-graders are beginning to narrow the achievement gap between themselves and their White counterparts. “Quality Counts 2006,” a national education report released earlier this month by the publisher of Education Week, found that math scores for the two groups had jumped 27.7 points and 24.2 points, respectively, from 1992 to 2005. The gains illustrate the positive relationship between state efforts to conduct standards-based education and student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, say Education Week officials.

Researchers affiliated with the Editorial Projects in Education organization worked with the Educational Testing Service to produce this year’s “Quality Counts” report. The organization has produced the report since 1997.

The report, unveiled this month at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., found that state initiatives to establish “standards, tests and accountability systems in education are positively related with gains on NAEP reading and math tests in grades 4 and 8 from 1996 to 2005.” However, the analysis showed a negative relationship between state implementation of policies related to teacher quality and gains in math and reading scores.

“After a decade of tracking state policy efforts in education, our results are at once heartening and sobering,” says Virginia B. Edwards, the editor of “Quality Counts 2006” and Education Week. “They’re heartening because when looked at over more than a decade, student achievement has gotten better, particularly in mathematics and particularly for low-income and minority students.”

The gap between Black and White students narrowed by nine points, the largest gap reduction among all the comparisons. It would have shrunk by as much as 80 percent, say Education Week officials, but White students also saw significant gains in their scores over the 13-year period. Hispanic students would have narrowed the gap by 94 percent, had the White student numbers remained the same.

“The nation has had noteworthy improvement among low-income Black and Hispanic students from 1992 to 2005,” said Lynn Olson, project editor of “Quality Counts” and senior editor at Education Week, at the National Press Club news conference.

The full report can be viewed on the Web at <>.

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