In response to today's release of the 2011 results of the nation's education report card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) recognized some progress in math and reading scores while expressing concern about stagnation of other results. Scores for 8th grade math were up both nationally and in Colorado, but reading scores remained flat in 4th grade and only slightly increased in 8th grade.
"It's great to see improvements in students' math outcomes," Polis said of the steady decade-long rise in NAEP math scores. "But we clearly have to do better at reading results and continue to focus on closing achievement gaps between low-income students and their wealthier peers."
Colorado was one of seven states that had a widening achievement gap in 4th grade NAEP reading results between lower-income and higher-income students.
"With Colorado among the fastest-growing states in childhood poverty rates, we must target resources and education reform policies to disadvantaged young students," Polis added.
Polis stated that federal reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) needs to require states to set specific student performance goals for all students, and particularly for subgroups of students based on family income and race. He indicated that stronger academic standards, better literacy initiatives and more funding for quality early childhood education will help improve reading outcomes.
"We're beginning to see positive change in academic results nationally and in Colorado, but it has to be faster or too many of the next generation will be unable to compete for good jobs in our increasingly competitive global economy," Polis said.
Polis, a member of the House Rules Committee, the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and co-chairman of the New Democrat Coalition Education Task Force, is the founder of two charter schools in Colorado and a leading voice for education reform.