"The Massachusetts scores in mathematics in grades 4 and 8 show that our students continue to be among the leaders nationally in achievement in mathematics. Our student scores placed Massachusetts among the nine highest performing states for fourth grade, and among the top 11 states for 8th grade. I am pleased that our eighth grade scores increased a statistically significant five points from 1992 to 1996 (to 278, from 273).
Also, the portion of our students who performed very well -- what NAEP calls "at or above proficient" -- outpaces the national average in fourth grade by four percentage points (24 versus 20), and in eighth grade by five points (28 versus 23). At the same time, it is not sufficient for approximately one quarter of our 4th and 8th grade students to be performing at a level of proficient or above.
Education reform measures to put in place new, higher standards for learning mathematics -- as well as all the other core academic areas -- have just begun to be used in our 4th and 8th grade classrooms. The real test will come when the state begins assessing every individual student and measuring every individual school's performance in these areas. That assessment begins next spring. With the state assessment in place, and the standards in place for teachers to use, student achievement will rise. Students, teachers, school leaders and parents must commit to this result."