Archive for Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kansas students score high on 2013 reading, math tests

November 7, 2013, 11:12 a.m.

Updated: November 7, 2013, 11:12 a.m.

Kansas remained among the highest scoring states in the nation in 2013 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP exam, a test that's sometimes called “the nation's report card.”

Although the average scores in reading and math among students in the fourth and eighth grades remained virtually unchanged since the last NAEP exam in 2011, they were still among the 10 highest average scores in the country across all categories, according to figures released today by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Our students and educators are working very hard in the classroom,” Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker said. “While it is reaffirming to see that Kansas students continue to outperform the national average, these results provide a very clear roadmap as to where we should be tailoring our efforts to make sure our children are ready to successfully compete in a global workplace.

Kansas has scored at or above the national average every year since the test began in the early 1990s, and has routinely scored above the national average each year since 2000 when states were required to provide accommodations so students with disabilities could participate.

Among fourth graders, Kansas was tied with five other states and the Department of Defense Education Agency for the fifth highest reading score.

Among fourth graders, Kansas was tied with a number of other states for having the fifth highest average scores in both reading and math.

And among eighth graders, Kansas was tied with other states having the ninth highest average reading score, and the 10th highest average math score.

Because the NAEP exam is given to a stratified random sample of students in each state, the reported scores contain a margin of error, similar to the results of a public opinion survey. As a result, scores that are close to each other are often reported as having no statistically meaningful difference.

Since the early 2000s, Kansas has shown measurable improvement in both fourth- and eighth-grade math scores. But reading scores at both grade levels have remained about the same.

The NAEP exam is administered roughly every other year to a stratified random sample of students across the country. The test is used to measure progress in overall reading and math scores within states over time, and to compare overall performance among states.

Scores are divided into three main performance categories: “basic,” which denotes partial mastery of the knowledge and skills needed for grade-level work; “proficient,” meaning solid academic performance; and “advanced,” or superior work.

But many education officials in the country, especially at the state and local level, are leery about the use of those words to describe individual scores. They argue that the NAEP exam is not aligned to any set of state standards and, therefore, does not accurately rate students according to how well they are meeting state and local educational standards.

Among the results for Kansas students:

• The percentage of fourth grade students preforming at NAEP’s "advanced" level in math grew from seven percent in 2011 to eight percent in 2013.

• The percentage of eighth grade students performing at or above the NAEP "proficient" level in math rose from 40 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2013. Eighth grade students performing at the advanced level in mathematics rose from eight percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2013, the highest percentage of Kansas students to reach that level.

• The percentage of fourth grade students at or above the "proficient" level in reading (38 percent) rose to 38 percent.

Nationwide, federal officials said, the 2013 tests showed there has been steady improvement in the percentage of students scoring “proficient” or “advanced” in both subjects, across both grade levels.

For example, 42 percent of fourth-grade students nationally scored proficient or higher in math, up from only 13 percent when the test was first administered in 1990.

Federal officials also noted improvement since 2011 in scores among certain racial and ethnic groups.

Hispanic students showed gains in math scores across the board, as well as eighth-grade reading scores.

Reading scores also rose among eighth-grade white, black and Asian-Pacific Islander students. As a result, officials said, achievement gaps between racial and ethnic groups did not change significantly since 2011.

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