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For Immediate Release
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Kimberly Beck 781-338-3105

2003 NAEP Results Show Massachusetts Students Lead Nation In Math And Reading

MALDEN - Massachusetts' fourth and eighth graders beat the nation's average in reading and mathematics and scored among the highest in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams in 2003, the first year students in every state participated.

Fourth graders tied with four other states for first in reading and nine other states in mathematics. Eighth graders tied with two other states for first in reading and with eight other states for second in mathematics.

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll lauded the results, hailing them as proof that Education Reform efforts have paid off across the state.

"These results show us once again that the skills our students are learning can be put to any test," he said. "It is clear that our teachers and students are determined to not only succeed, but to lead the nation."

In reading the average scaled score for fourth graders was 228, 12 points over the national average of 216. Eighth graders also outscored their counterparts nationwide with an average scaled score of 273, well above the national average of 261.

In mathematics, fourth graders earned an average scaled score of 242, 9 points above the national average of 234. Eighth graders scored an average of 287, 11 points above the national average of 276.

Among the results:

  • Roughly 40 percent of fourth and eighth graders scored at or above Proficient in reading and mathematics. In reading, 40 percent of Massachusetts fourth graders and 43 percent of eighth graders scored at or above the Proficient level, well above the national average of 30 percent for both grades. In mathematics, 41 percent of fourth graders and 38 percent of eighth graders performed at or above Proficient, above the national average of 31 percent of fourth graders and 27 percent of eighth graders.
  • Significant gains were made in mathematics, particularly in grade four where performance improved for nearly every subgroup (whites, African Americans/black, Hispanics, males and females, students with disabilities, students eligible for free/reduced lunch, urban schools and rural areas). Hispanic fourth graders improved their mathematics score by 19 points since last taking the test in 2000.
  • The 2003 results showed that gender gaps persist in both grades. In reading female students outscored males (231 to 225 in grade 4 and 278 to 268 in grade 8), while in Mathematics, males outscored females (244 to 239 in grade 4 and 289 to 284 in grade 8).
  • The NAEP exam, known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only national, continuing assessment of what American students know and can do in various subject areas. NAEP is mandated by the U.S. Congress and is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the U.S. Department of Education.

    Results are scored on a scale of 0 to 500 and performance for each grade is scaled separately.

    This was the first year that a random sampling of students from all 53 states and jurisdictions participated in the assessment. No Child Left Behind required that all states receiving Title I funding administer the reading and mathematics exams in grades 4 and 8. The next test administration will be done in 2005.

    In Massachusetts, 4,396 fourth graders and 3,770 eighth graders from 131 schools were tested in reading and 4,499 fourth graders and 3,773 eighth graders were tested in mathematics. A total of 165 schools at grade 4 and 131 schools at grade 8 participated.

    For more information on the state's results, visit the DOE Web site at

    Last Updated: November 13, 2003
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