And, in another sign of the nation’s recession, the number of students eligible for free lunch rose as well—from 32 percent of fourth-graders in 2003 to 38 percent in 2009.
Meanwhile, a significant achievement gap remains among several groups. Affluent, white, and Asian/Pacific Islander students are scoring higher than low-income, black, and Hispanic students. Each group has made gains, but at about the same rate, resulting in a continuing, sizable gap—26 points between white and black eighth-grade students, and 24 percent between white and Hispanic students, somewhat smaller than it was in 1992.
The gap between male and female students has remained steady or decreased as well, with male students increasing their scores, despite concerns they are not reading as much in an age of video games and text messaging.
“One might speculate that boys are doing other reading that they don’t see as reading; maybe texting, social groups, eMails, interaction with IMs and social networks,” Loveless said.
Other highlights from the report:
- Eighth-grade students in city schools increased their average score from 257 to 259.
- Scores for fourth-grade black students in the District of Columbia rose.
- Fourth-grade students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in Connecticut, Florida, and New York improved their average score. Nationwide, the average score for this group of students increased at both grade levels.