National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show first drop in math scores in 15 years

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show first drop in math scores in 15 years

Compiled by the NSBA’s National Connection Daily

The New York Times (10/28, Rich, Subscription Publication) reports that ED has released the latest round of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, which show that math proficiency has declined “for the first time since 1990.” Students in grades 4 and 8 saw declines, which came “as the country’s employers demand workers with ever-stronger skills in mathematics” and as “states grapple with the new Common Core academic standards and a rebellion against them.” Reading proficiency also “stalled” this year. The Times explores the potential impact of the Common Core, details demographic shifts that may have contributed to declining scores, and quotes such officials as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Thomas B. Fordham Institute President Michael J. Petrilli sounding off on the results.

The Washington Post (10/28, Brown) reports that while fourth-grade reading scores remained flat, they declined at the eighth-grade level. Moreover, there were “large achievement gaps between the nation’s white and minority students as well as between poor and affluent children,” suggesting that “disadvantaged students are not gaining ground despite more than a decade of federal law designed to boost their achievement.” The Post explains that the NAEP, sometimes called the Nation’s Report Card, is often seen as “an important barometer of U.S. student achievement because they are the only exams that have been given nationwide over a long period of time.” The Post reports that in a call with reporters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan “defended” such policies as tying teacher evaluations to student test scores and implementing the Common Core Standards, “saying that massive changes in schools often lead to a temporary drop in test scores while teachers and students adjust.” The Post quotes Duncan saying, “Big change never happens overnight. I’m confident that over the next decade, if we stay committed to this change, we will see historic improvements.”

Chalkbeat Tennessee (10/27) reports that the test results come after years of Tennessee education officials having lay claim to the title of “fastest improving state in the nation in K-12 education.” However, the piece notes that “researchers say that you can’t see which state is “most improved” merely by adding, because the scales for the tests are different.”

Maryland students’ scores drop. The AP (10/28, Witte) reports that Maryland students’ scores dropped at both grade levels and for both subjects. State education officials “noted that scores released remain above the national average in most areas, though Maryland dipped just below the national average in fourth-grade math.” Gov. Larry Hogan said that the exclusion of some “students with disabilities and English language learners” under his predecessor Martin O’Malley “produced misleading results.”

Analysis: Texas, Florida scores depressed by large numbers of disadvantaged students. The New York Times (10/28, Leonhardt, Subscription Publication) reports that though Florida and Texas “are likely to look pretty mediocre,” but says that “both states appear to be well above average at teaching their students math and reading.” The piece reports that the states’ scores “almost certainly present a misleading picture” which gives the states “short shrift.” The Times explains that Texas and Florida “look worse than they deserve to because they’re educating a more disadvantaged group of students than most other states.”

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