Bay State students get best grades in ‘Nation’s Report Card’

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BOSTON – While Massachusetts policymakers debate standardized exams and what form they should take in the future, the Bay State’s fourth- and eighth-graders earned top marks in reading and math in nationwide testing results released Wednesday.

Fourth grade students ranked first in reading and tied for first in math, the “Nation’s Report Card” shows. It also lists Bay State eighth graders tying for first in reading and math. Other states earning top marks in some categories were Minnesota, Indiana and New Hampshire.

Massachusetts students have scored highest six times in a decade, according to the listing, also known formally as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It is put out by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.

“I am thrilled to see Massachusetts students and teachers leading the nation once again,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “This achievement reflects the substantial investment the commonwealth makes in its districts, but there are still too many children stuck in low-performing schools that could be served by expanding high quality education to every community, including lifting the charter cap.”

Baker has proposed making it possible for as many as 12 new charter schools to be added statewide each year. The schools are taxpayer funded and open to the public.

The latest report card wasn’t all good news for Massachusetts, however.

Despite being above the national average, Massachusetts eighth graders’ math scores fell significantly compared with 2013 results, along with 22 other states, observed Mitchell Chester, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

“We will review all of our results to identify opportunities for strengthening the commonwealth’s program of instruction,” Chester said in a statement. He also noted that Hispanic eighth graders’ reading scores were low compared with the statewide average.