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New report demonstrates that socioeconomic inequality skews student test scores

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel says education is key to improving equity

WASHINGTON - January 15, 2013 -

The Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Economic Policy Institute today released a report, What do international tests really show about American student performance?, demonstrating that socioeconomic inequality among U.S. students skews international comparisons of student test scores.

According to the report, Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in reading and math are low, on average, for U.S. students partly because a disproportionately greater share of U.S. students comes from disadvantaged social class groups. The performance of students from these groups is relatively low in all countries.

The National Education Association issued the following statement today from its president, Dennis Van Roekel:

“Today’s report from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the Economic Policy Institute supports our belief that public education can be the ultimate equalizer. If we are serious about reaching all students, we must take their circumstances into account and address those that hamper progress. Students come from varying backgrounds and environments, and instruction and support should be designed to meet students where they are and help move them where they need to be. The report shows once again that poverty and education inequity are indisputably linked.

“The report confirms that a multi-layered approach—rather than a single silver-bullet solution—is needed to help raise student achievement and help students learn. When school administrators and community members respect and support educators and work collaboratively to address the effects of poverty on learning, students benefit and their achievement improves. This integrated approach relies heavily on the expertise of teachers, education support professionals, and specialized personnel like school social workers and school counselors who work together to help students celebrate their accomplishments and talents, overcome challenges, and learn.

“It is estimated that one in five students overall in the U.S. live in poverty—far more than in any other industrialized country. The recession, our tattered safety net and ignoring the issues of growing poverty have all combined to contribute to the number of high poverty schools. And these schools often receive fewer resources from the states.

“If we want to transform public education to help all students succeed, we cannot be afraid to talk about and address poverty-related issues. We need to all work together to foster changes so that disadvantaged students have the same opportunity as other students to receive a quality education.”

To view download a copy of the full report visit

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,