Kansas City, Mo Educators in Kansas and Missouri say an increased focus on reading is paying off for students, with fourth- and eight-graders in both states outpacing the national average last year on a reading test.
The test results, which were released Thursday, indicate that both Kansas and Missouri had some top-10 scores.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly called the nation's report card, provides the only state-by-state comparison of educational progress in various academic areas. Different subject tests are given each year.
Fourth-, eighth-, and 12th-graders took the tests, but individual state's scores weren't released for seniors.
The tests have three scoring categories: basic, proficient and advanced. For Kansas and Missouri, eighth-grade reading was a highlight, particularly in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels.
Vermont and Massachusetts were the only states to have more proficient and advanced eighth-grade students than Kansas, which tied with Maine for third place.
Missouri tied for the eighth-best score in the percentage of eighth-graders scoring at the advanced or proficient levels.
Among Kansas fourth-graders, 34 percent scored at the proficient or advanced levels in 2002.
"Our students have always done so well, it makes it more difficult to do even better," said Alexa Pochowski, Kansas' assistant education commissioner.
In Missouri, fourth-graders scoring at the proficient or advanced levels jumped from 28 percent to 32 percent.
The percentage of proficient or better Missouri eighth-graders rose from 28 percent to 33 percent.
Meanwhile, Kansas education officials are concerned that the test score gap widened between students receiving federally subsidized lunches and those who do not.
Since the national assessment tests in reading were first given in 1992, the average fourth-grade score in the nation has risen slightly, eighth-grade scores have climbed and results for 12th-graders have noticeably declined.