[caption id="attachment_25680" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Fourth graders' progress on a national math test has slowed."]Fourth graders' progress on a national math test has slowed.[/caption]

After two decades of slow and steady progress in math, U.S. fourth-graders made no improvement over 2007, according to nationwide test scores released Oct. 14. Eighth-graders made headway, posting gains for yet another year.

It is impossible to tell from a single test whether trends are changing. Since 1990, test scores have been rising in both grades, though fourth-graders generally have made bigger gains.

Even so, officials said they were troubled by...

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