Massachusetts officials are touting another head-of-the-class performance by fourth and eighth graders in the state.
Results of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress exams show eighth graders in the Bay State scored tops in the nation in math and tied for first in reading. Fourth graders ranked first in reading and were tied for first in math.
It was the fourth consecutive year in which Massachusetts students scored first or tied for first on the NEAP exam.
State officials also say black and Hispanic students in the state continue to show improvement in the tests and have narrowed the performance gap with white students — from 34 points two decades ago to 22 points this year.
But Education Secretary Paul Reville wants the gap closed further.
"Even though over the years, over the past couple of decades, we did see some closing of those gaps for low-income students, for students of color, we're not satisfied with the rate of progress and we need to do better closing achievement gaps," he said.
"The gaps are still, you know, a 22 point gap is not something we're proud of. And so we're going to continue hammering away at that. But these results tell us we're on the he right track."
Gov. Deval Patrick said the results reaffirm Massachusetts is a national leader in education.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on November 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.