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October 28, 2015

U.S. Performance Slumps According to National Report Card

U.S. Performance Slumps According to National Report Card

There is simply no way to sugar coat today’s NAEP 4th and 8th grade math and reading results. They were disappointing to say the least. With the exception of a few states and districts results remained flat or declined across both grades and subjects between 2015 and the last administration in 2013.

Specifically, national math scores declined between 2013 and 2015 at both the 4th and 8th grade levels, while reading scores dipped in 8th grade but remained steady at the 4th grade level. States didn’t fare much better during this time period either. In fact, no state made any significant improvement in 8th grade math while Mississippi, Washington, DC, and Department of Defense schools made modest gains at the 4th grade level. Of the 20 large districts that participated in NAEP in both 2013 and 2015, only Chicago improved over their 2013 results at the 8th grade level. Washington, DC, Miami-Dade, and Dallas improved their performance as well at the 4th grade level while the scores in 7 districts declined.

When it came to reading West Virginia was the lone bright spot at the 8th grade level by being the only state to post gains from 2013 to 2015. In 4th grade reading, 13 states made significant gains topped by Washington, DC (7 points), Louisiana (6 points), Mississippi (6 points), and Oklahoma (5 points) which all made gains of 5 or more points since 2013. Miami-Dade was the only district to post gains at the 8th grade level while Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington, DC made gains in 4th grade. Most districts neither saw improvement nor declines in either 4th or 8th grade.

While this year’s NAEP results are disheartening, one data point does not make a trend. Keep in mind, NAEP scores have steadily increased over the past 25 years. In fact, even with this year’s declines 8th graders still scored 19 points higher in math than 8th graders in 1990 which equates to nearly two years’ worth of learning. Since 2000 8th graders have improved their math performance by 9 points—nearly a year’s worth of learning.  So while scores declined in 2015, it does not necessarily mean our schools are less effective. The results from this and every NAEP release should be based on the larger trend which has shown steady gains over the past decade.

But this also does not mean this year’s NAEP results should be ignored. Researchers, policymakers, and educators should take a deep look at these results as well as other indicators of school quality such as results from state assessments to determine if they provide evidence on whether this year’s NAEP results are an anomaly or the start of a new downward trend. By examining NAEP scores along with other measures of school quality policymakers can make more informed decisions on what is needed to support our public schools.

 

The Findings

 

     4th Grade Math

District Level

  • Of the 20 large urban school districts that took part in NAEP in both 2013 and 2015 Washington, DC, Miami-Dade, and Dallas were the only districts to make significant gains.
    • On the other hand, 7 districts saw declines in their average 4th grade mathematics scores since 2013.
  • Charlotte, Hillsborough (FL), and Austin were the highest performing districts, while Detroit, Baltimore City, and Cleveland were the lowest performing.

State Level

  • At the state level scores increased between 2013 and 2015 in three states/jurisdictions (Mississippi, Washington, DC, and Department of Defense schools). Fifteen states had increased their scores between 2011 and 2013
    • 16 state saw declines in their average 4th grade mathematics score since 2013. No state saw declines between 2011 and 2013.
  • Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire were the highest performing states, while Alabama, New Mexico, and Washington, DC were the lowest performing.

National Level

  • Nationally, scores dropped by 2 points between 2013 and 2015.
    • Student achievement in math has increased by 27 points (2.5 year’s worth of learning) since 1990, the 1st year of NAEP.
  • The percent of students scoring at or above NAEP’s Proficient level dropped by 2 percentage points between 2013 and 2015 (42 and 40 percent respectively).
    • The proficiency rate has more than tripled since 1990 (13 percent in 1990 vs. 40 percent in 2015).
    • Moreover, the percent of students scoring below NAEP’s Basic level has increased from 17 percent in 2013 to 18 percent in 2013. In 1990 50 percent of 4th graders scored below the Basic level.

 

8th Grade Math

District Level

  • Between 2013 and 2015 Chicago was the only district to make significant gains.
    • Only Hillsborough (FL) and Houston saw declines during this time period.
  • Just as with 4th grade math, Charlotte, Austin, and Boston were the highest performing districts, while Detroit, Baltimore City, and Cleveland were the lowest performing.

State Level

  • At the 8th grade level, 22 states saw declines in their scores between 2013 and 2015, while not a single state made statistically significant improvements during this time.
  • Massachusetts continues to post the highest 8th grade math scores, with New Hampshire, Minnesota and New Jersey close behind. Washington, DC, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi scored the lowest.

National Level

  • Between 2013 and 2015 national scores fell 3 points for the first time. However, students in 2015 have obtained about two more years’ worth of learning in math than students in 1990.
  • The percent of students reaching NAEP’s Proficient level has more than doubled from 15 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 2015. The percent scoring below NAEP’s Basic level decreased from 48 percent to 29 during the same time period.

4th Grade Reading

 

District Level

  • Of the 20 large urban school districts that took part in NAEP in both 2013 and 2015 Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington, DC were the only districts to make significant gains.
    • On the other hand, Baltimore City was the only district that saw declines in their scores during the same time period.
  • Hillsborough (FL), Miami-Dade and Charlotte were the highest scoring districts, while Detroit, Cleveland, and Baltimore City were the lowest scoring.

State Level

  • At the state level, scores increased between 2013 and 2015 in 13 states/jurisdictions. Only Maryland and Minnesota saw their scores decline during this time period.
  • Five states saw their scores increase by more than 5 points during this time period with Washington, DC leading the way with a 7 point gain followed by Louisiana (6 points), Mississippi (6 points) and Oklahoma (5 points).
  • Massachusetts, Department of Defense schools, and New Hampshire were the highest performing states, while New Mexico, Washington, DC, California, and Alaska were the lowest performing.

National Level

  • Nationally, scores increased by 1 point from 2013 and 2015 but the increase was not statistically significant, meaning the increase likely happened by chance.
  • The percent of students scoring at or above NAEP’s Proficient level increased by 1 percentage point between 2013 and 2015 (35 and 36 percent respectively) but the increase was not statistically significant either.
    • The proficiency rate has increased from 29 percent in 1992 to 36 percent in 2015.
    • Moreover, the percent of students scoring below NAEP’s Basic level has decreased from 32 percent in 2013 to 31 percent in 2015. In 1992 38 percent of 4th graders scored below the Basic level.

8th Grade Reading

District Level

  • Between 2013 and 2015 Miami-Dade was the only district to make significant gains.
    • Only Hillsborough (FL), Albuquerque and Baltimore City saw declines during this time period.
  • Among the highest performing districts were Charlotte, Austin, Miami-Dade and San Diego, while Detroit, Baltimore City, Cleveland, and Fresno were the lowest performing.

State Level

  • At the 8th grade level, 8 states saw declines in their scores between 2013 and 2015, while West Virginia was the only state to increase their score during this time.
  • Department of Defense schools posted the highest reading scores, with New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont close behind. On the other hand, Washington, DC, Mississippi, and New Mexico scored the lowest.

National Level

  • Between 2013 and 2015 scores fell 3 points bring the overall score back down to the 2011 level of 265 which had been the all-time prior to 2013.
  • The percent of students reaching NAEP’s proficient level decreased from 36 to 34 percent between 2013 and 2015. During this same time period the percent scoring below NAEP’s Basic level increased from 22 percent to 24 percent.
Filed under: NAEP,Report Summary — Jim Hull @ 3:39 pm





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