Turns Out Johnny Can Read

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Despite previous studies indicating that U.S. students were significantly less literate than children in other countries, a new report from the National Center for Education Statistics indicates that they are actually among the best in the world. Citing a 32-country study of fourth and ninth graders conducted by an international coalition of government agencies and research institutions in 1992, the NCES found that U.S. students' literacy skills rank second only to those of Finnish school children. Why the switch? Prior studies failed to account for the more demanding curriculum in U.S. schools. "The report shows how high standards are for American kids," says TIME's Ann Blackman. "Our teachers require the kids to jump through more hoops than they do in other countries." In a separate finding that black children and those whose parents failed to complete high school lag behind other U.S. students, the new study may point policy-makers toward a focus on the economic roots of scholastic achievement. -->