Nation's Report Card on Education Released

Nation's Report Card on Education Released


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Sandra Yi ReportingThe nation's report card is out and Utah's school kids get a passing grade in reading.

The 2002 report was released today by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Utah's scores are better than the national average, but what disturbs educators is that they improved little or remained the same in the past four years.

The Nation's Report Card shows Utah's students make the grade in reading. Fourth and eighth graders here do better than their peers in most other states.

Patti Harrington/Associate Superintendent, Utah State Board of Education: "We're very pleased with that, and frankly they reflect our strong efforts on working with children in reading and writing in particular."

But educators say it's not enough as eighth grade scores are cause for concern.

Patti Harrington: "Anytime we're not making progress, we're losing ground."

Those scores remained the same last year as they did in 1998. In part, because while students are earning the required credits, they may not be learning.

Patti Harrington: "There are very few schools in the state of Utah that hold children accountable for actually earning those credits; meaning, they can move on to high school with straight A's or straight failure grades."

Test results also show eighth grade boys don't read as well as girls. In fact, the boys' scores may be slipping. Educators say one reason may be the lack of non-fiction reading material like magazines and newspapers in the classrooms, which appeal more to boys. Teachers may now include more of that on their shelves.

Patti Harrington: "What we're not seeing in the research is, the more children read and write from nonfiction sources, the more improved and the greater the improvement in the reading."

The state office of education plans to increase its expectations for students as federal expectations have also toughened with President Bush's 'No Child Left Behind Act'. High school students may soon be required to take more credits and earn a C grade or better to be considered competent.

Patti Harrington: "Any time the national scores are static, I worry about our kids and I want them to do better."

In Utah more than 80 percent of elementary kids and 70 percent of secondary school kids can read at grade level. The state office of education hopes to get that number up to 90 percent.

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