About the Center on Education Policy: The Center on Education Policy is a national, independent advocate for public education and for more effective public schools. The Center helps Americans better understand the role of public education in a democracy and the need to improve the academic quality of public schools. We do not represent special interests. Instead, we try to help citizens make sense of the conflicting opinions and perceptions about public education and create the conditions that will lead to better public schools.
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This report, which provides a detailed look at student performance on 8th grade state reading and math tests, tracks testing data by student race, ethnicity, income, and gender from as early as 2002 through 2009. State test results are analyzed when three or more years of comparable data are available, and student performance at the basic, proficient, and advanced achievement levels are included in the analysis. The main finding is that, contrary to popular wisdom, there have generally been upward trends in state reading and math test scores at 8th grade. The progress is more noteworthy in math, where every state with sufficient data made gains in the percentage of 8th grade students reaching the advanced level and all but one of these states showed gains at the proficient level. In most of the states, however, gaps have widened between lower- and higher-achieving subgroups of 8th graders at the advanced level in math.
Also available are 50 state profiles with detailed student achievement data and tables showing the performance of various student groups on state tests.