NAEP scores not bad, not good


Student achievement in reading, math, and science in the nation’s five mega-states matches or falls slightly below the national average, according to a report released last week by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The organization analyzed test scores of children in grades 4 and 8 from 1990 to 2011.

NAEP examined educational progress over the last 20 years in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. The mega-states, as NAEP calls them, contain more than 40 percent of the country’s public elementary and high school students. The five states also have eight of the country’s largest urban school districts.

The report’s findings are interesting in several ways. While it’s true that students in the mega states generally do not perform better than the nation as a while, some of the states have made major gains during the last 20 years.

Most of the states had gains in one area and not in another. New York, for example, scored higher in grade 4 reading than the national average, but lower in grade 4 mathematics and grade 8 mathematics and science. California showed the least progress, scoring lower than the national average in reading, math, and science.

And some states are making significant progress closing the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and their white peers.

California’s black students increased their reading scores by 28 percent, a larger increase than black students nationally. And New York’s Hispanic 4th-grade students increased their scores in all three subjects more than Hispanic students did nationally.

But perhaps the most important finding from the report was the nation’s rapidly changing student demographics. All five states saw major shifts in population, with Hispanic and Latino students on track to overtake white students as the majority. And white students no longer make up the majority of 8th graders in three of the mega-states.