The National Assessment of Educational Progress Report: States are failing to improve literacy and math skills

Math Scores Fell in Nearly Every State, and Reading Dipped on National Exam

New data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, found that scores on reading and math for fourth graders were significantly lower in all but three states than they were in 2015.

Just 13 percent of students tested in the 2015 NAEP were proficient in math and only 10 percent of students were proficient in reading. By contrast, 23.3 percent of students were proficient in math and 26.6 percent were proficient in reading.

The National Assessment Governing Board said its findings raise questions about whether states have successfully trained their systems to assess both literacy and mathematical skills. In a statement, the board said it was concerned about how states are implementing the report’s recommendations.

“The report highlights how a set of changes underway now in many states would fail to meet the goals established by the National Assessment Governing Board,” the board said. “States should stop making changes now that would harm students’ educational outcomes. The changes should instead be delayed into the future during a period when parents can afford them.”

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The report also found that the gap between fifth-grade scores in the states decreased from 3 percentage points in 2015 to 2 percentage points in 2017.

“We are encouraged by the fact that the gaps are declining. However, our work is not over,” said Michelle Jaschke, co-director of the Center on Reinventing Education at Stanford, in an email to ABC News. “We need to continue to work with states to craft and implement high-quality math and science curricula that can prepare young people for college and careers.”

It’s worth noting that the findings are based on students who took the NAEP in the spring of 2016, a time when the test was administered by third- and fourth-grade teachers.

That is, the data are from students who were already proficient. As we often point out, proficiency is only an initial marker of mastery, as measured on standardized tests.

This means that this data is not necessarily the best predictor of what students actually do with the skills they learned in

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