More than half the nations fourth graders haven't mastered reading skills, 32 percent are considered proficient and only eight percent are reading at an advanced level, according to the 2000 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
The three achievement levels are basic, which is defined as "partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills," proficient and advanced. They are based on what a student should know and be able to do at the fourth grade.
Girls performed better than boys, and white and Asian/Pacific students outperformed their black, Hispanic and American Indian peers. Students who live in the Northeast and Midwest tended to score higher than children in the Southeast and West. The test also showed that public school students faired poorer than their private and parochial school peers.
The US Department of Education released the NAEP results on Friday, April 6. NAEP is administered to students in grades 4,8, and 12 in states that volunteer to participate. The latest results show little or no improvement since the tests were last administered in 1994.