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State in top six for reading scores, but achievement gap remains unchanged

Even with gains in reading scores for most student groups in Minnesota, achievement gaps in gender and race have narrowed very little in 17 years, according to national test scores released Wednesday.

The 2009 "Nation's Report Card," which reports the findings of the National Assessment of the Educational Progress, showcases reading scores from fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the country.

On the national front, only six states significantly outperform Minnesota's fourth-graders in reading and just three states significantly outperform the state's eighth-graders in the same subject.

The average score for Minnesota's students in 2009 was not significantly different from their average score in 2007, but was higher than their average score in 1998.

However, the racial/ethnic achievement gap at either grade level has remained the same for both grades for more than a decade.

Minnesota's females score higher than males in reading scores in both grades.

Reading scores between students eligible for "free and reduced-price lunch" - a commonly used indicator of poverty - and those not eligible has also narrowed little since1998.

Nationally, compared to 2007, there have been no significant changes in the racial/ethnic gaps, gender gaps or gaps by type of school at either grade level. Compared to 1992, only the white-black gap in fourth grade and the female-male gap in eighth grade have narrowed.

Samples of more than 178,000 fourth-graders and 160,000 eighth-graders participated in the 2009 national assessment. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge on reading comprehension.

Results from the 2009 "Nation's Report Card," can be found at