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The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009

October 2009

Author: National Center for Education Statistics

PDF Download The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009 PDF for viewing and printing (9024K PDF)


Cover image of The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009 report which shows a girl doing math on a chalk board. Elmements of composite are copyrighted by Bonnie Jacobs/iStockphotos and Veer/Corbis

Executive Summary

Mathematics scores up since 2007 at grade 8, but unchanged at grade 4

Gaps persist despite gains for some student groups

Five states and jurisdictions make gains at both grades 4 and 8

Examples of Student Math Skills

Mathematics scores up since 2007 at grade 8, but unchanged at grade 4

Nationally representative samples of more than 168,000 fourth-graders and 161,000 eighth-graders participated in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge and abilities across five mathematics content areas: number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis, statistics, and probability; and algebra.

Gains in students’ average mathematics scores seen in earlier years did not continue from 2007 to 2009 at grade 4 but did continue at grade 8. While still higher than the scores in the six assessment years from 1990 to 2005, the overall average score for fourth-graders in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007. The upward trend seen in earlier assessments for eighth-graders continued with a 2-point increase from 2007 to 2009.

A similar pattern of results was seen for students performing at different achievement levels. The percentages of fourth-graders performing at or above Basic (82 percent) and at or above Proficient (39 percent) in 2009 were unchanged from those in 2007, but still remained higher than in the assessment years from 1990 to 2005. The percentages of eighth-graders performing at or above Basic (73 percent) and at or above Proficient (34 percent) in 2009 were higher than those in 2007 and in all earlier assessment years.

Trend in fourth- and eighth-grade NAEP mathematics average scores

Image of grahpic showing the average mathematic scores for 1990, 1992, 1996 without accommodations, and 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 with accommodations, respectively: for grade 4 scores were 213*, 220*, 224*, 224*, 226*, 235*, 238*, 240, and 240; for grade 8 scores were 263*, 268*, 272*, 270*, 273*, 278*, 279*, 281*, and 283.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2009.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1990–2009 Mathematics Assessments.

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Gaps persist despite gains for some student groups

Results for student groups were generally similar to those for students overall. At grade 4, there were no significant changes in the average mathematics scores from 2007 to 2009 for students in different racial/ethnic groups, or for those attending public or private schools. Scores for these groups did, however, remain higher than the scores in 1990.

There was no significant change at grade 4 in either the White – Black or White – Hispanic score gaps since 2007. However, greater gains over the years for Black students than for White students contributed to a smaller score gap in 2009 than in 1990. The gap between private and public school students in 2009 was not significantly different from the gap in 2007, but was narrower than the gap in 1990.

At grade 8, average mathematics scores were higher in 2009 than in both 2007 and 1990 for most racial/ethnic groups; however, gaps between White and Black students and between White and Hispanic students showed no significant change in comparison to either year.

The average score for eighth-grade public school students increased from 2007 to 2009, and the score for private school students showed no significant change over the same period. There was no significant change in the gap between the two groups in comparison to either 2007 or 1990.

 Student groups Grade 4 Grade 8
Since
1990
Since
2007
Since
1990
Since
2007
Overall
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
White
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
Black
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
Hispanic
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
Asian/Pacific
Islander
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
American Indian/
Alaska Native
Reporting standards not met.
No significant difference
Reporting standards not met.
No significant difference

 Type of school Grade 4 Grade 8
Since
1990
Since
2007
Since
1990
Since
2007
Public
Up
No significant difference
Up
Up
Private
Up
No significant difference
Up
No significant difference

 Gaps Grade 4 Grade 8
Since
1990
Since
2007
Since
1990
Since
2007
White – Black
Narrowed
No significant difference
No significant difference
No significant difference
White – Hispanic
No significant difference
No significant difference
No significant difference
No significant difference
Private – Public
Narrowed
No significant difference
No significant difference
No significant difference

Up Indicates the score was higher in 2009.
No significant difference  Indicates no significant change in the score or the gap in 2009.
Reporting standards not met.  Reporting standards not met. Sample size insufficient to permit a reliable estimate.

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Five states and jurisdictions make gains at both grades 4 and 8

Map of the 2009 NAEP Mathematic results compared 2007, average mathematics scores for public school students in 2009; 4 states (Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and the District of Columbia increased at both grades, 3 states (Colorado, Kentucky, and Maryland) increased at grade 4 only, 4 states (Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia, and Wyoming) decreased at grade 4 only, 10 states (Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington) increased at grade 8 only, and 30 states and jurisdictions showed no significant change at either grade.

Compared to 2007, average mathematics scores for public school students in 2009

2009 scores increased in both grades.

4 states (Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and the District of Columbia increased at both grades,

2009 math scores increased at grade 4 only.

3 states (Colorado, Kentucky, and Maryland) increased at grade 4 only,

2009 math scores decreased at grade 4 only.

4 states (Delaware, Indiana, West Virginia, and Wyoming) decreased at grade 4 only,

2009 math scores increased at grade 8 only.

10 states (Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington) increased at grade 8 only, and

2009 math scores showed no significant change at either grade.

30 states and jurisdictions showed no significant change at either grade.

1Department of Defense Education Activitiy (overseas and domestic schools).

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Examples of Student Math Skills

Grade 4

43% identified parallel and perpendicular lines

59% divided a three-digit number by a one-digit number

75% made a pictograph of given information

Grade 8

47% found the change in y given the change
in x for a linear equation

69% identified the side with the same length
in congruent figures

75% determined a quantity based on a given percent

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Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

PDF The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009 report PDF (9024K PDF)

NCES 2010-451  Ordering information


Suggested Citation
National Center for Education Statistics (2009). The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2009  (NCES 2010–451). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see the results of the 2009 Mathematics assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 19 November 2009 (RH)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education