Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Math Scores Continue to Improve

A summary of the just-released NAEP data, showing small progress – but also underscoring how far we have to go:

The nation's elementary-school children notched the highest scores ever recorded on national math exams this year, continuing a 20-year trend of improvement, according to test data released Tuesday.

But results from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress were tempered by mixed scores on the reading exam. While U.S. eighth-graders showed slight improvement since 2009, fourth-grade scores didn't budge. Over the last two decades, reading's improvement at both grades has been lackluster.

David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which develops the exam, applauded the math achievement and the tiny uptick in eighth-grade reading but said he was "concerned about the stalled performance" in fourth-grade reading. "We must now find a way to...accelerate student progress in both subjects," he said in a prepared statement.

U.S. fourth-graders notched 241 points on the math exam, one-point higher than in 2009 and 28 points higher than in 1990. The test is scored on a 0-500 point scale. Eighth-graders scored 284 points, one point higher than in 2009 and 21 points more than in 1990, the first time the current math exam was given.

By contrast, fourth-grade reading has been stuck at 221 since 2007 and has jumped only four points since 1992, the first year the current reading exam was administered. The eighth-grade score was 265, one point higher than in 2009 and five points higher than 1992.

Here's the Center for Eduction Reform's take:


U.S. Gets an "F" for Flatline in Nation's Report Card


WASHINGTON, DC -- Barely 40 percent of the nation's 4th- and 8th-grade students are proficient in math and reading, an alarming statistic that would be considered failure in any grade, any school or on any state report card.

The results of the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (Commonly called "The Nations' Report Card") showed a statistically insignificant gain of 1 percentage point over 2009 scores. Nationwide only 13 states showed any significant progress at all. The District of Columbia is one of the only states to increase in both 4th- and 8th-grade math and reading scores, but it still lags behind most other states and its students achieve only 21percent on reading in 4th-grade and 17percent on 8th-grade math.

"Our nation's students can't afford for us to sit idly by while another year passes with relatively no improvements. The Nation's Report Card demonstrates the status quo does not work," said Jeanne Allen, president of The Center for Education Reform. "We must overhaul our educational system. We need revolutionary change, if we want to break free from the failing trends of the past and truly celebrate student achievement."

Allen continued, "As a nation, we are well behind our educational goals and student achievement continues to flatline. In two years, since the last release Report Card, math and reading scores have shown little to no improvement."

Forty-two states have shown no significant improvement on either test since 2009. Closing the achievement gap also seems to be impossible, with the gap between white and black students decreasing by only one point to a 25-point gap. The gap between white and Hispanic students was also 20 points or higher across all assessments. In reading, 4th-grade students stayed the same since 2009 and 8th graders only marginally improved.

"While we remain stuck in mediocrity, other nations are gaining on, if not surpassing, the U.S. in the global economy. How can we compete when our complacent education system is satisfied with nearly a third of our children failing to achieve even basic knowledge in math and reading? The longer we wait – the longer we let achievement flatline – the further we'll find ourselves at the bottom of the list of powerful, even worth mentioning, economies," said Allen.  


Math Scores Continue to Improve


 Subscribe in a reader