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N.C. Students Lead Nation In Math Test Score Increases

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RALEIGH — North Carolina has labored over its math program for the past decade. What teachers teach has been updated, and the way they teach it has been as well. Now, they encourage students to explore, and allow them to discover math principles, which means no more memorizing. And now it looks to be paying off.

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) tests are often called the nation's report card, and North Carolina did very well this year.

Gov. Mike Easley was on hand when the state released the NAEP scores Thursday.

"I'm proud to report that the greatest gains of any state in the nation were made by North Carolina," said Easley.

In 4th grade, the national score is 226. In North Carolina, it is 232 -- six points higher. Eighth grade testers also beat the national average by six points, scoring 280.

"The performance of North Carolina can give hope and serve as a model for a lot of other states and the country," said NAEP Project Manager Archie LaPointe.

Five years ago, lawmakers funded the state's expensive school accountability program, which put pressure on teachers and students to perform better. Easley gave the General Assembly credit for students' past improvement.

Even in Thursday's congratulatory forum, though, the state budget impasse raised its ugly head.

"If we're going to make this state great, we're going to have to be bold and push through this economic shortfall," said Easley.

School leaders are now taking aim at Minnesota and Massachusetts, the highest scoring states. But the Governor thinks it will take more resources to get there.

Easley also wants more money for a state program for four-year-olds, and to reduce class size. Lawmakers listened, then quickly headed back to the legislature to continue their adding and subtracting. The math is hard enough. They made no promises.


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