A new report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress finds Jersey ranks as one of the top states in the nation when it comes to 4th and 8th grade math and reading proficiency.

Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Chris Cerf says "The Nations Report Card" shows "New Jersey is number 2 out of 51 including DC in 4th grade reading - number 2 in 8th grade reading - and number 4 in 4th grade math and number 3 in 8th grade math - so that's a pretty darn good report card for the state."

At the same time he says we also need to look at "what is the gap between the performance of our economically advantaged and economically disadvantaged students- we need to celebrate our successes in the state, -but we also need to be very honest about the reality that zip code is destiny for too many kids…in 8th grade reading for example, we are number 50 in the nation in the gap between economically disadvantaged and advantaged kids."

He says "all of us, republicans and democrats- in every corner of the state - need to have an honest conversation about what is a fundamentally wrong situation…education is meant to be the great equalizer - how you do in life is not meant to be who your parents were, or what country they were born in or the economic circumstances in which you grow up …it's meant to be based on your hard work and your merit, and that turns out just not to be true in this state…I'd say one of the more alarming numbers here is at least compared to other states the longer you stay in school… the greater the gap is."

The Commissioner adds while "we should acknowledge the incredibly hard work of our teachers - and give them the pat on the back they so richly deserve…we are a long, long, long way from the finish line - if we are really going to live the dream of equality of opportunity in this state…and until we have an honest conversation about the depths of those challenges and the work- sometimes the uncomfortable work that we need to undertake to address that - and close that gap- we're not going to make the progress these kids absolutely deserve."

You can read the National Assessment of Education Progress report here.