Georgia gets low marks in reading

By Trina Trice

Parents might want to encourage their children to read this summer.

Results from a reading test conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, show the reading performance of Georgia's eighth and 12th graders is lower than the national average, according to a report posted on the NCES Web site.

"There are no scientific answers to why our high school seniors have performed so poorly on this reading assessment, but we're still searching for solutions to these daunting challenges," said Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education. "Reading is fundamental to basic learning. That's why a key aspect of No Child Left Behind is the solid support of early reading skills. We already know what works to teach youngsters to read, and we know that all children can learn."

The reading performance of fourth graders has improved, however.

The average fourth-grader's reading score has improved over the last four years and the average eighth-grader's reading score is higher than it was in 1992.

Although black fourth-graders narrowed the achievement gap in 2002 from 1994 with their white counterparts, and Hispanic fourth-graders narrowed the achievement gap from 2000 with their white counterparts, they still fall behind the average white reading score.

Children eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch showed improvement in their scores, as well.

"All these statistics prove that all children – despite their economic status or racial or ethnic backgrounds – can indeed learn," Paige said.

At the national level, fourth graders are scoring at about the same level, eighth-graders are scoring a bit higher and 12th – graders' scores have dropped.

NCES is a federal agency responsible for collecting and analyzing data on education in the United States.

The organization administered a reading test to participating states, the results from which comprise the "Nation's Report Card."

Students read texts on their grade level. Students read three types of texts representing different contexts for reading: reading for literary experience; reading for information; and reading to perform a task, for grades 8 and 12 only.

Tests were administered between earlier this year. During More than 727,800 students were assessed in nearly 14,200 schools.

The number of students tested in 2002 were: 140,000 fourth-graders, 115,000 eighth-graders, and 15,000 twelfth-graders.

Students in fourth- and eighth-grades were tested in reading and mathematics and a small number of students in 12th grade participated in reading and mathematics pilot tests.