Reading scores in Alabama schools improve

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - Reading scores for 4th and 8th grade students in Alabama improved in 2009 despite more difficult reading standards than used in previous years.

The Alabama State Department of Education, in a statement Wednesday to FOX6 News, announced details of a report released this week by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.  In the report, the ALSDE said Alabama's 8th Grade reading scores improved significantly while 4th Grade reading scores grew at a historic pace despite more difficult reading standards.

State Superintendent of Education Joe Morton said the 2009 NAEP scores are evidence of sustained improvement from previous years.

"We've always known that improving reading was going to be a challenging task," Morton said in the statement. "What is important to notice is that the 2009 NAEP data proves the gains we have made are not an anomaly; they would have been validated by the state holding its ground even if the circumstances were identical."

The ALSDE said the 2009 tests for reading assessment used more high-quality literature and a broader range of text types to challenge students, including included poetry and assessing vocabulary in a new way that shows students understand the meaning of words used in a passage.

The 8th Grade Reading scores in Alabama increased three points since 2007 -- a statistically significant improvement according to NAEP officials.  Nationally, 8th grade student scores increased only one point during this same time period and only nine states had increased scores: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Morton said the NAEP results are indicative of the effort that has gone into making reading a top priority in Alabama education.

"Reading is the cornerstone to all learning," Morton said. "Solid reading and comprehension abilities are essential to excel in math, science, the arts -- all other areas of understanding."

For more information on the report, visit

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