Reading, Math Scores Up For 4th and
8th graders, Federal Report Shows
Federal Report Shows Increases Seen in Teen Birth, Low
The nationís fourth and eighth graders scored higher in reading
and mathematics than they did during their last national assessment,
according to the federal governmentís latest annual statistical
report on the well-being of the nationís children. Not all the
reportís findings were positive; there also were increases in the
adolescent birth rate and the proportion of infants born at low
These and other findings are described in Americaís Children
in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008. The report
is compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family
Statistics, a working group of Federal agencies that collect, analyze,
and report data on issues related to children and families, with
partners in private research organizations. It serves as a report
card on the status of the nationís children and youth, presenting
statistics compiled by a number of federal agencies in one convenient
"In 2007, scores of fourth and eighth graders were higher in mathematics
than in all previous assessments and higher in reading than in
2005," said Valena Plisko, associate commissioner of the National
Center for Education Statistics, a part of the U.S. Department
This yearís report also saw an increase in low birthweight infants
(less than 5 pounds 8 ounces). Low birthweight infants are at increased
risk for infant death and such lifelong disabilities as blindness,
deafness and cerebral palsy.
"This trend reflects an increase in the number of infants born
prematurely, the largest category of low birthweight infants," said
Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National
Institutes of Health. Although not all the reasons for the increase
are known, infertility therapies, delayed childbearing and an increase
in multiple births may be contributing factors.
The birth rate among adolescent girls ages 15 to 17 also increased,
from 21 live births for every 1,000 girls in 2005, to 22 per 1,000
in 2006. This was the first increase in the past 15 years.
"It is critical that we continue monitoring this trend carefully," said
Edward J. Sondik, PhD, director of the National Center for Health
Statistics in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Compared
with other teens their age, teen mothers are less likely to finish
high school or to graduate from college. Infants born to teen mothers
are more likely to be of low birthweight."
Among the favorable changes in the report were a decline in childhood
deaths from injuries and a decrease in the percentage of eighth
graders who smoked daily.
These and other findings on the nationís children and youth are
described in the reportís content areas:
Family and Social Environment
Physical Environment and Safety
The Forumís Web site at http://childstats.gov contains
all data updates and detailed statistical information accompanying
this yearís Americaís Children in Brief report. As in previous
years, not all statistics are collected on an annual basis and
some data in the Brief may be unchanged from last yearís report.
Members of the public may access the report on-line at http://childstats.gov.
Alternatively, members of the public also may obtain printed copies
from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Information
Center, P.O. Box 2910, Merrifield, VA 22116, by calling 1-888-Ask-HRSA
(1-888-275-4772), or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Forum alternates publishing a detailed report, Americaís
Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary
version that highlights selected indicators. This year, the Forum
is publishing Americaís Children in Brief; it will publish the
more detailed report in 2009.
The data tables and figures for all the indicators in this yearís
brief are available at http://childstats.gov.
The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth;
maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population
issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit
the Instituteís Web site at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic,
clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates
the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.