National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a federal agency that collects and publishes information about the academic progress in our schools, released a report on the average reading and mathematics scores of high school seniors, by the state. Later, a press release came from the office of Connecticut Governor Malloy, and by Friday, it was announced all over the state by the press that high school seniors in Connecticut have achieved the highest scores among all of the states in reading.
This agency is otherwise known as "The Nation's Report Card," and it is the largest organization that keeps track of math and reading assessment state by state. The assessment score range used by NAEP in reading is from 0 to 500, and twelfth graders in Connecticut achieved an average reading score of 299 in 2013. This was higher than the average score of 287 for public school students in the nation. It was also higher than their 2009 score of 292.
Around 50% of Connecticut students scored at or above the proficient level for reading in 2013, compared to 43% in 2009. New Hampshire had second highest percentage at 45% and Massachusetts was third at 43%. (NEAP Reading and Math, 2014)
The results from the 2013 NAEP also showed that Connecticut’s achievement gap between black and white students is narrowing in reading proficiency. In 2013, black students in Connecticut had an average reading score that was 27 points lower than white students — thus reducing the gap by nine points, when compared to those in 2009.
According to a press release from Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office, “This is the first time that, in Connecticut, the black-white gap narrowed by a statistically significant amount in any grade across two consecutive NAEP administrations."
One news report noted that this achievement in supporting reading initiatives was partly due to the efforts made by the Malloy administration and the General Assembly to keep the funding for the schools high. In 2011-12, $269.5 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal funding designated for education ended, leaving a hole in the education budget. Thanks to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly, these dollars were fully restored with state funding. (HamletHub,2014)
Also, through the Alliance District program, the state provides increased funding which is tied to greater accountability to the 30 lowest performing school districts. Over the past three years, nearly $150 million additional dollars have been redirected to help Connecticut's districts reach higher, more rigorous standards and improve outcomes for students. So, in spite of being confronted with schools with budget cuts in federal funding, this state is making education and schools a priority in its own budget.
“In reading, Connecticut stands at the very top of the nation — and stands alone. Our state’s education system has performed better than any of its peers, including those of neighboring states which historically and consistently have eclipsed our performance,” said Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor. “That is an enormously encouraging and truly noteworthy achievement.”
Since Connecticut adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, Mr. Pryor said, educators in the state “have been working to deliver on the promise of higher expectations and more rigorous academic standards.” (Wilton Bulletin, 2014)
Math and reading are so important to prepare children to use their talents to make productive and fulfilling lives for themselves as adults, and also to get them ready for the workforce of the future. The continued teaching efforts and monetary investments that this state is making now can provide a successful model for other states.
Are the nation's twelfth-graders making progress in mathematics and reading? (May 2, 2014) NAEP - Mathematics and Reading 2013. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Governor Malloy Press Release. GOV. MALLOY: CONNECTICUT LEADS THE NATION ON HIGH SCHOOL ASSESSMENT. (May 9, 2014) Ridgefield (CT) Hamlet Hub.
Kendra Baker. Connecticut 12 graders lead the nation in reading proficiency. (May 8, 2014) Wilton (CT) Bulletin.