Skip to Content

Nation’s Reading Scores Remain Steady

Results highlight need for more collaboration to close achievement gaps

WASHINGTON - March 25, 2010 -

Results of the 2009 Nation’s Report Card on Reading released this week show no movement in fourth grade reading scores from 2007, and only a one point increase in eighth grade reading scores from 2007.  The results are part of an ongoing assessment—the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP)—which looks at random samples of readers and compares them to samples in other states, providing a nationwide snapshot of how well our children are reading, and thinking about what they read.

 “Reading is the foundation to all learning,” said National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel. “It’s a fundamental skill, but more than that, it is the door that opens to all possibility. It is imperative that we all work together to find ways to improve reading proficiency and close gaps in reading achievement.”

This latest round of scores were based on a new framework which added poetry to the Grade 4 tests, placed more emphasis on literary and informational texts and re-defined reading cognitive processes. “NAEP’s new framework pushes us to think more deeply about what reading is,” said Barbara Kapinus, NEA’s reading specialist.  “It represents a more modern approach to what we’re assessing and how we’re assessing it.”

Leaders expressed disappointment that the scores did not improve significantly, and that gaps did not seem to close.  Dr. Steven Paine, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, said static achievement trends could not be explained by “how the schools are governed—by local boards or states or as independent charters, or even by the accountability programs that have proliferated over the past two decades.”  Instead, he said, reading achievement is a “shared responsibility, both within the school and, more broadly, in society.”

NEA is committed to improving achievement for all students and closing the achievement gaps, particularly for low-income and minority students. “This is a top priority for us,” said Van Roekel.  “Public education is society’s great equalizer, and we feel a profound responsibility to get it right and improve reading among all our students.  It’s clear that high-stakes, do-or-die testing, which was the cornerstone of No Child Left Behind, is not the answer.  It’s time for creative, innovative, flexible solutions.”  

In 2009, NEA launched the “Priority Schools Campaign,” a program that engages school districts, teachers, support staff, parents, students, local business and faith communities to transform low performing schools into innovative, effective centers for learning. “What we have found through our Priority Schools Campaign is that we can attack these achievement gaps, and working together, can make a real difference for our kids,” said Van Roekel.

For more information on what NEA is doing to help close our nation’s achievement gaps please visit:
NEA is also working to transform America’s public schools through our priority schools initiative.  For more information visit:
Follow us on twitter at

# # #

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing
3.2  million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Laila Hirschfeld  (202) 822-7823,