Christine Stuart photo
Connecticut’s high school seniors from the class of 2013 ranked among the highest in the nation for both reading and math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress report released Wednesday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy praised the results Wednesday at the state Board of Education meeting where he spoke about the ability of students and the state to improve on Connecticut’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap. But he warned that progress would be fleeting if the state didn’t stay committed to improving education.

“We need to remain committed to supporting teachers who are working hard in their classrooms across Connecticut, and put our students on a road to success,” Malloy said.

Of the 13 states that participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Connecticut ranked the highest in reading and ranked in the top tier, along with Arkansas, Idaho, West Virginia and New Jersey, for math.

In comparison with the NAEP results from 2009, Connecticut and Arkansas were the only states to improve in reading, while the other participating states remained stagnant.

Connecticut students also demonstrated a 32 percent overall proficiency in math in comparison to a national 25 percent proficiency rating. Connecticut also scored a 50 percent overall proficiency rating in reading. The national percentage for overall proficiency in reading is 36 percent.

“I think it’s important to note that the statistics we’re talking about are 12 grade statistics, because they measure what our kids know when they leave us,” Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said. “So this is very good news for us.”

The assessment also noted improvements in Connecticut’s achievement gap, which is one of the largest in the nation, according to the NAEP.

Connecticut received a black-white achievement gap score of 27 in 2013, according to the NAEP. This is a 9-point decrease, an improvement, from 2009.

The state’s black-white achievement gap score for math also decreased since 2009, but its drop from 33 to 31 is not statistically significant because it is still higher than the national score of 29.

“(The achievement gap) is something that I have been working on as governor from the day I came into office,” Malloy said.

Malloy noted Wednesday that he is proud of the strides the state has made in narrowing the gap, but there is still work to do.

“As you know there is much more progress to be made. In fact the achievement gap, although closing, is still is too wide for us to tolerate,” Malloy said.

The state is trying to narrow the achievement gap even further by giving more money to some of the lowest performing schools in what is called the Commissioner’s Network.

The Commissioner’s Network is an initiative to help improve the lowest performing schools in Connecticut. The network’s goal is to improve student achievement in up to 25 schools.

There are currently 16 schools in the Commissioner’s Network, five of which were added Wednesday. The newest schools are John C. Clark School in Hartford, Lincoln-Bassett School in New Haven, Robert J. O’Brien STEM Academy in East Hartford, Luis Muñoz Marin School in Bridgeport, and Uncas Elementary School in Norwich.

This year, Connecticut will invest more than $15 million in Commissioner’s Network schools, according to a press release from Malloy’s office. Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said that since Malloy became governor the state has invested nearly $150 million new dollars in the state’s lowest performing school districts.

“We are sending millions and millions of dollars more to local communities,” Malloy said. “We’re also holding them accountable for how that money is spent, and clearly these results help confirm that we are on the right road.”