Feds report achievement gains among elementary, middle school students

The AP (via USA Today) reports:

Students are doing better in elementary and middle school, but key indicators show little progress among high school and college students, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said.

Kids in elementary and middle school have made progress because that is where the focus has been, Spellings told the AP.

The No Child Left Behind education law — an approach that George W. Bush campaigned on when he ran in 2000 and signed as president in 2002 — has a goal of making sure every student can read and do math at their grade level by 2014.

That goal is still a long way off, but fourth- and eighth-graders are doing better. Last year, tests showed 33% could read and do math at grade level, compared with 25% in 2000, according to Education Department data.

Minority students are doing better, too. The percentage of black and Hispanic students who could read and do math at grade level was 35% that of white children last year, the department found. But that has increased from 23% in 2000.

• Last year, the high school graduation rate was 74%, compared with 72% in 2000.

• The share of college-bound students ready for a college course was 42%, the same as in 2000.

• The share of younger workers, age 25-34, with a bachelor’s degree was 31%, compared with from 29% in 2000.

“High school graduation and college readiness are very much linked, and college completion is very much linked to college readiness,” Spellings said. “And we have barely begun to fight on this.”

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