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Department at a Glance | Our Mission

No Child Left Behind Is Working to Close
the Achievement Gap

By requiring states to conduct annual assessments in grades 3 through 8 by 2006, No Child Left Behind has pushed schools to measure the achievement of all students and to improve performance where gaps exist. The progress of targeted students on state fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics assessments between SY 2002-03 and SY 2003-04 shows that No Child Left Behind is working to address the largest and most persistent achievement gaps.

A comparison of state-reported proficiency data for SY 2002-03 and
SY 2003-04 for states testing fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics shows increases in the percentages of targeted students who are proficient in a majority of those states. Of these targeted groups, the largest increases in reading proficiency were reported for limited English proficient students, African-American students, and low-income students; the largest increases in mathematics proficiency were reported for low-income students and Hispanic students. The tables below reflect results from states that conducted assessments in SY 2002-03 and SY 2003-04; states are not required to assess each of grades 3 through 8 until SY 2005-06.

 

Reading Results—Grade 4
The Percentage of Reporting States That Showed an Increase in Proficiency on Fourth-Grade State Reading Assessments Between SY 2002–03 and SY 2003–04
Disaggregated Category Percentage of Reporting States Showing an Increase in Proficiency Number of States Assessing and Reporting For Both Years
African-American Students
75
32
Hispanic Students
59
32
Students with Disabilities
75
32
Limited English Proficient Students
81
32
Low-income Students
76
33

Note. In Puerto Rico, Limited Spanish Proficient is used in lieu of Limited English Proficient.

Source. U.S. Department of Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, official state submissions.

 

Mathematics Results—Grade 8
The Percentage of Reporting States That Showed an Increase in Proficiency on Eighth-Grade State Mathematics Assessments Between SY 2002–03 and SY 2003–04
Disaggregated Category Percentage of Reporting States Showing an Increase in Proficiency Number of States Assessing and Reporting For Both Years
African-American Students
68
40
Hispanic Students
73
41
Students with Disabilities
62
42
Limited English Proficient Students
63
43
Low-income Students
76
41

Note. In Puerto Rico, Limited Spanish Proficient is used in lieu of Limited English Proficient.

Source. U.S. Department of Education, Consolidated State Performance Report, official state submissions.

 

The gains in proficiency for students with disabilities, low-income students, and minority students are shown because they demonstrate a narrowing of the gap at important learning milestones for reading and mathematics. The development of good reading skills in early grades provides a good foundation for later academic success in higher grades. In particular, the skills required for fourth-grade reading proficiency are necessary for understanding and applying concepts in other subjects such as mathematics and science. The measure of eighth-grade mathematics proficiency demonstrates the understanding of mathematical concepts, procedures, and problem-solving skills; such proficiency is necessary for students before they begin advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.

The following chart reflects state-by-state performance at the grades for which the Department set performance measures for reading and mathematics and is not necessarily a reflection of each state's overall assessment system. For SY 2002-03 and SY 2003-04, states were only required to assess one grade between grades 3 and 5, inclusive; one grade between grades 6 and 9, inclusive; and once in high school. States are not required to assess each of grades 3 through 8 until SY 2005-06. For more complete information on a state's assessment system, visit the state educational agency's Web site.