April 9, 2001

National Report Card Shows No Improvement

WASHINGTON D.C.—On April 6, 2001, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported the 2000 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores for 4th grade reading. These scores demonstrate that overall, 4th graders have shown no improvement over the past eight years---scoring the same in 2000 as they did in 1992. Even more significant is the widening achievement gap between the lowest-performing students (those who score in the 10th percentile) and higher-performing students (those in the 75th percentile and above). The test results showed the lowest-performing students' scores dropping from 170 to 163 and the higher-performing students slightly rising.

Another gloomy revelation of this year's reading test: scores have stagnated among minorities, particularly blacks and Hispanics. The only ethnic group to actually make minimal reading progress since 1992 is the Asian/Pacific Islanders. The gap between the sexes also grew: Female students scored higher in 2000 than in 1992 and males scored lower in 2000 than in 1992.

Finally, an interesting side note seems to point to benefits of decreased television watching. NCES reports that 4th graders who watch less than one hour of television a day increased from 19 percent in 1992 and 1994 to 25 percent in 2000. Those students watching less television also had higher scores.

This latest NCES report demonstrates that billions of additional federal dollars poured into our public education system over the last eight years have made very little difference. In fact, achievement gaps seem to be growing instead of shrinking.

More dollars don't make "sense." It is time to reduce the federal role in education and return this important power to parents, states and local communities.

Many families are discovering that home education offers an effective way to overcome many achievement gaps common in traditional schools. Research on home schooling shows that these gaps are minimized and above-average test scores are achieved on surprisingly limited academic budgets. On average, home schoolers spend about $400 per student. Read these studies here.

See NCES results at:

Read the NCES commissioner's remarks at: