Ga., S.C. pupils test below national average in reading, math

ATLANTA — Georgia fourth- and eighth-graders are performing only slightly better than they did two years ago on national reading and math exams, and most of the students tested continue to lag the national average in both subjects, data released Tuesday show.


South Carolina scores on the tests haven’t changed much in two years and continue to hover below the national average.

The data from the Nat­ion­al Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that in Georgia, only fourth-graders matched a national average, with 32 percent passing muster on the reading test.

Most pupils tested in Georgia trail the nation in both subjects. The largest gap is in eighth-grade math, where 28 percent of Georgia pupils were proficient, compared with 34 percent for the nation.

On the reading test, 28 percent of the state’s eighth-graders met standards, compared with 32 percent for the nation.

“The scores demonstrate that we have a lot of work to do and our public schools and teachers need the support of parents, the public and policymakers more than ever before,” said Tim Callahan, a spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, which represents more than 81,000 educators across the state.

South Carolina fourth- and eighth-graders posted scores that were between two and five points below the national average.

On a 500-point scale, average math scores increased by a single point, to 237 in fourth grade and 281 in eighth grade.

Fourth-graders’ average reading score dipped by one point, to 215, while eighth-graders’ reading score went up three points, to 260.

Georgia pupils saw slight improvement over 2009 tests and some saw big increases since the tests were first administered in the early 1990s. For example, just 14 percent of eighth-graders in 1990 were considered proficient in math, compared with 28 percent this year.

Just 15 percent of fourth-graders in 1992 were proficient in math, but this year 37 percent hit that mark.

The average scores on the tests were the best ever for Georgia in both subjects, with the biggest gains in mathematics. The average math score in 1992 for fourth-graders was 216, compared with 238 this year.

For eighth-graders, math scores rose from 259 in 1990 to 278 this year, though the score hasn’t changed since 2007. And Georgia was one of just nine states to show improvement in fourth-grade math scores.

Since 1992, math scores in South Carolina have increased 25 points in fourth grade and 20 points in eighth grade.

Reading scores have risen five points in both grades, since 1992 for fourth grade and 1998 for eighth grade.

“The state’s performance in fourth-grade reading is especially troubling,” said state schools chief Mick Zais. He said the scores call out for reform, with a back-to-the-basics focus.

Dubbed the nation’s report card, NAEP tests are the only ones taken nationwide, allowing for state-by-state comparisons.

National averages also saw little movement. Average math scores nationwide, as in South Carolina, increased by a single point in both grades. In reading, the score for fourth-graders was unchanged from two years ago. Eighth-graders in reading scored on average one point higher in 2011 compared with 2009.

See the results of the Nat­ion­al Assessment of Educational Progress