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For Immediate Release
Friday, July 24, 1998
Contact:Jan O

Statewide Grade Three Iowa Reading Test Results Show Little Change from Last Year

Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner Dr. David P. Driscoll today released the results of the second annual statewide third-grade reading test showing that 1998 reading scores for third-graders are nearly identical to the 1997 scores.

Results of the 75-minute test of reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling indicate that third grade students in the Commonwealth read at least as well or better than 64% of their peers across the nation. In 1997, that rate was 65%. The national average, by definition, is 50%.

The 1998 Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) Reading Test was administered in April to 77,598 Massachusetts third-graders in all Massachusetts public school districts. All third-grade students were expected to take the test, and 95% did so. The remaining 5% were not tested because they were absent or did not meet test participation criteria.

Results also show little movement up or down along the reading performance levels. Scores are virtually the same as they were last year, with 21% of Massachusetts third-graders performing at the top "Advanced" level in 1998 (22% in 1997). In 1998, 47% scored at the "Proficient," 21% at "Basic," and 6% at "Pre-Reading levels." In 1997, student performance at these levels was identical to the 1998 results.

Massachusetts students continue to perform better at the top levels when compared to their peers nationally. Nationwide, 19% of grade three students perform at the top "Advanced" level, 37% at "Proficient," 31% at "Basic" and 13% at Pre-Reading.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "While I am pleased that our third-graders continue to read better than third-graders across the nation, there is no cause for celebration.

I am seriously troubled that 27% of all Massachusetts third-grade students are not reading well enough to progress satisfactorily. Reading is the key to success in school and in life because it is the gateway to learning. I urge teachers, principals, parents and superintendents to take a hard look at the results so that adjustments can be made in classroom instruction for the next school year."

He added, "Individual districts may see major changes up or down, and these scores are worth close review and analysis. However, I urge caution in identifying trends because we have only two years of data to compare, and cohorts of children in 1997 and 1998 may be very different."

To review the state, district and school ITBS results for third-graders, contact

Last Updated: July 24, 1998
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