According to the results:
• Just four states and the District of Columbia managed to show improvement in both fourth and eighth grades. The states are Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The District of Columbia was the only place where kids’ scores improved across every group by race, gender and family income.
• Three states saw improvement in fourth grade only; they are Colorado, Kentucky and Maryland. Ten states saw improvement in eighth grade only; they are Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.
• In four states, scores actually dropped among fourth-graders; they are Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In addition, there was no progress from 2007 to 2009 in closing the gap between minority and white students in either grade, though the gap has narrowed somewhat since the 1990s. Black and Hispanic students did make gains at eighth grade, but the gap persisted because white students improved, too.
Experts say this divide, considered one of the toughest challenges in education, is driven by deeply rooted factors. More minority children live in poverty, which is linked to an array of problems that interfere with learning.
Another reason the gap has persisted is demographics–white children made up about 75 percent of students tested in the 1990s but today make up less than 60 percent.
Private school students continue to outperform those in public schools, according to the scores. Private school math scores were 7 points better in fourth grade and 14 points better in eighth grade.
Internationally, U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders have kept improving in math and have gained on some of their toughest competitors. But the most recent tests were done in 2007 and won’t be administered again until 2011.
National Assessment of Educational Progress–2009 math results