On Sunday night, Fareed Zakaria examines the U.S. education system and asks the question: How can the U.S. get back on top and be a world leader in education? Don't miss the "GPS" special "Restoring the American Dream: Fixing Education," Sunday night at 8 ET on CNN.
Washington (CNN) -- Fourth and eighth grade students scored higher in mathematics last spring than anytime since the Nation's Report Card began measuring their performance decades ago, data showed Tuesday.
But while noting "modest progress," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said achievement by America's students is "not accelerating fast enough..."
The one point increase was a continuation of a gradual climb in mathematics scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over the last twenty years. Students are assessed on a 500 point scale.
In reading, the fourth grader's scores in spring 2011 were statistically the same as those in 2009, but the eighth graders average score rose by one point.
"It's clear that achievement is not accelerating fast enough for our nation's children to compete in the knowledge economy of the 21st Century," said Duncan in a statement on the results.
"After significant NAEP gains in the 1990s, particularly in mathematics, the 2011 results continue a pattern of modest progress," he added
The Nation's Report Card is release every other year by the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the Department of Education in Washington and is used to measure achievement of U.S. students. Results are given both as a national average and by state.
Hawaii is the only state that showed improvement in math and reading for both fourth and eighth graders. Students in New Mexico, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia improved in mathematics for both grades and in Maryland reading scores were higher at both grades.
The assessment also compared the student's' scores by ethnicity and found that Hispanic students had narrowed the achievement gap with white students for both math and reading in both grades.
The report also shows that more fourth graders are reading for fun every day than in previous years. Those students that do read every day saw much higher scores than those who hardly ever read.