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Massachusetts high school seniors are #1

Massachusetts students scored first in the nation among states that participated in the grade 12 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in English language arts and mathematics. Massachusetts students continue to lead the nation in grades 4 and 8 in those subjects, as well.

“This fantastic news is a tribute to the hard and effective work of teachers and students across the state,” said MTA President Paul Toner, after the NAEP scores were announced on November 18. “This bodes well for our future, since so many students who are taught in our schools eventually find jobs in Massachusetts and raise their families here.”

Governor Deval Patrick announced the results surrounded by students and teachers at Medford High School. The school was chosen because students there have posted significant test score gains in recent years.

“I am proud of the performance of our students, and today’s announcement reaffirms our position as a national leader in education,” said Governor Patrick. “We will continue on this path of success and increase our efforts to ensure all students are prepared for the rigors of college and a future in the workforce.”

“Massachusetts students continue to outpace their peers in other states because of their hard work and the efforts of their teachers,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “These results should provide a baseline for future work and also encourage students to remain focused so they can excel and achieve academic success.”

Massachusetts was one of 11 states to participate in a pilot to receive state-specific grade 12 results. The other states are Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

More than 6,000 students from 94 high schools participated in the exams. Massachusetts students had the highest scaled scores in the nation on both the reading and math test, and were in a statistical tie with several other states in the percentage scoring at the top two levels.

These tests, like others, reflect continued achievement gaps, with lower scores attained by African-American, Hispanic, low-income and special needs students.

“We are very proud that our students continue to score right at the top of this important national assessment,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “At the same time, I am concerned that by grade 12, not enough students are reaching the proficiency bar. We will track these results closely in future years to gauge improvements in student achievement, and to determine areas of strengths and weaknesses for our high school seniors.”

Listen to Paul Toner's interview with the Public News Service.