NEW JERSEY 101.5

New Jersey's education system fares well in an updated look on progress across the country.

Fourth and eighth-graders in New Jersey scored among the top tier of states in reading and math on this spring's National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Eighth-graders' scores in both subjects ranked second nationwide. Fourth-graders finished sixth in math and fourth in reading.

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"(NAEP) is really the only apples-to-apples comparison among the states," said Frank Belluscio, Deputy Executive Director of the New Jersey School Boards Association. "If you want to compare the performance of New Jersey students to those in California, this would be the database that you would look at."

The results, known as the nation's report card, come every two years when the standardized test is given to a handful of schools in each state.

While New Jersey's scores top the national average at each level, the proficiency rates leave plenty to be desired. Less than half of New Jersey's fourth and eighth-graders are considered "proficient or above" in reading and math.

"There's always room for improvement," Belluscio added. "The one factor that has to be pointed out, and that is of the most concern, is the achievement gap."

The gaps, economic or ethnic, have been a primary focus of the Association and the Christie Administration. The 2013 report card showed no significant progress in New Jersey filling those gaps.