Highest Score in Country on Reading; Results Also Show Closure in Black-White Achievement Gap

(HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that Connecticut high school seniors lead the nation and are in a class of their own in reading, according to the results released today by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In math, the Class of 2013 remained in the top tier along with seniors from only four other states.

In addition, Connecticut's results show definitive progress in narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students in reading. 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. And when compared to 2009, student performance remained either steady or increased for black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, and special needs students in both tested subjects.

Governor Malloy commended Connecticut students, teachers and administrators for their distinguished effort and for making progress towards closure of the achievement gaps.

"Today's announcement is proof that our effort to improve public schools is working," Governor Malloy said. "This could not happen without the hard work of the people on the front lines – our state's teachers. Our state has decided that where a student lives or the financial situation of their parents should not be a barrier to a decent education. While we still have more work to do, these results are a clear sign of steady progress in the right direction."

Connecticut high school seniors performed in the topmost tier of performance at the national level based on average scale scores and the percent of students at/above proficient in math and reading. Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor credited the success to a combination of continued efforts and new educational initiatives.

"Without a doubt, this is a major accomplishment. Congratulations to Connecticut's dedicated and talented teachers and students. 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. That is an enormously encouraging and truly noteworthy achievement." Commissioner Pryor said. "Since 2010, when Connecticut adopted the Common Core State Standards, our educators have been working to deliver on the promise of higher expectations and more rigorous academic standards. And to the credit of Governor Malloy and the General Assembly, public education has received increased investments in recent years—even when times were toughest during the Great Recession."

In 2011-12, $269.5 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal funding designated for education ended and left a hole in the education budget. Thanks to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly, these dollars were fully restored with state funding.

In addition, through the Alliance District program, the state provides increased funding tied to greater accountability to the 30 lowest performing school districts. Over the past three years, nearly $150 million additional dollars have been directed to help Connecticut's districts reach higher, more rigorous standards and improve outcomes for students.

Though the increase in academic rigor, funding, and accountability are all contributing factors to Connecticut's improved performance, the achievement gaps remain wide among subgroups of the student population. In every area of comparison among racial and economic comparisons, there are participating states (often many) with smaller achievement gaps than Connecticut.

Regarding these sizable gaps in achievement, Commissioner Pryor said, "While today's news is worthy of celebration, we cannot rest on our laurels. Many challenges lie ahead. Our achievement gaps are still too wide and we must redouble our efforts to address these disparities. Overall, we must remain committed to our reforms and our investments in order to strengthen our state's position as we enter the era of higher standards and higher expectations in earnest."

Thirteen states participated in the 2013 Grade 12 assessment. Between January and March, 2, 400 students took the Math test and 2,500 students took the Reading test in more than 100 Connecticut high schools across 84 school districts.

Known as the "Nation's Report Card," NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of students' knowledge in reading and math on a state-by-state basis.


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