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Texas, like nation, sees little progress in national report card

Texas saw a significant decrease in eighth-grade reading scores and stagnant results in other measures.

Tayden, along with the rest of the classroom, watches the students walk in as JoAnn Zavala welcomes them in on Sept 5, 2019 …

Texas' elementary and middle school students still lag in reading, according to a national report card out Wednesday.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, given every other year to a sample fourth- and eighth-grade students in reading and math, measures how states' students are performing over time compared with a national average. This year, Texas' fourth-grade math and reading scores stayed stagnant; eighth-grade scores stayed the same in math and dipped significantly in reading.

White students in Texas are still outperforming black and Hispanic students in these tests. Texas this year scored around or below the national average in all categories except fourth-grade math, which was higher than average.

State education officials highlighted that bit of good news in a release Wednesday afternoon.

"We should be proud of the performance of our 4th grade students in mathematics, especially the leading position of our African-American students. We still have work to do so our 4th-grade achievements in mathematics extend through 8th grade and beyond," Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said in a statement.

He also thanked state leaders and lawmakers for passing a school finance law in May that laid the groundwork for further improvements, including expanding reading academies for teachers and principals.

An analysis from the Urban Institute, a think tank based in Washington D.C., shows Texas ranks higher when accounting for its relatively large number of low-income students, students of color and students learning English.

The entire nation saw a slump in test scores this year, leading U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to call the results "devastating" in a statement this morning. She used the results to highlight her focus on school choice policies that help students "escape failing schools."

"By expanding education freedom, students can break out of the one-size-fits all system and learn in the ways that will unlock their full potential," she said in the statement.

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