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August 2, 2001

Ryan Announces Further Evidence Calling for Annual Testing for Students

CHICAGO -- Governor George Ryan said today that 2000 mathematics data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress demonstrate the need for a national standard for annual testing to determine student progress.

"The data show that the mathematics achievement of Illinois students is on par with students throughout the nation," Ryan said. "The data do not show whether our students are progressing on an annual basis because the last year Illinois participated was 1990. Without that information, it is difficult to reinforce measures that work or make adjustments that will quickly help students progress."

National data released today show that mathematics achievement of fourth and eighth graders in the U.S. has increased slightly since the last NAEP test administered throughout the country four years ago. Illinois did not participate that year.

"Legislation requiring annual testing is awaiting final action in the U.S. Congress. I would urge the members of Congress to enact annual testing to increase accountability and improve student achievement," Governor Ryan added. "Annual national testing would show teachers which of their strategies were working to improve achievement and where they needed to change curriculum, materials and methods to make sure that students progressed each year."

Data from annual assessments will help state and national policymakers direct resources to areas that will provide the greatest help for students.

"The NAEP results reflect those we have found with Illinois Standards Achievement Tests," said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. "We not only have to significantly improve the mathematics achievement of Illinois students, we must be especially diligent in closing the achievement gaps that are glaringly apparent and unacceptable - between socio-economic groups and between minorities and white students. Annual standards-based assessments would help mobilize efforts to achieve those goals."

"Next month, ISAT and its new high school counterpart, the Prairie State Achievement Exam, will give us an even better picture of student learning in the state. Those results will tell us how well students are progressing toward the achievement targets Illinois citizens have set for them."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation's Report Card, produced average national scores on the mathematics exam of 225 for fourth graders and 273 for eighth grade students in 2000. In 1996, the averages were 224 for grade four and 272 for grade eight. Fourth and eighth-grade averages for Illinois in 2000 were 223 and 275 respectively. Illinois has not participated in NAEP on a statewide basis since 1990.

The entire report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress is available on the NAEP website at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/


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