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The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011

November 2011

Author: National Center for Education Statistics

PDF Download The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011 PDF for viewing and printing (29895K PDF)


Cover image of The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2011 report.

Executive Summary

Students’ reading comprehension unchanged from 2009 at grade 4, and improves at grade 8

Higher percentage of eighth-graders perform at or above Proficient than in 2009

Examples of knowledge and skills demonstrated by students performing at each achievement level

Scores in 12 states higher than in 2009 at grade 4 or 8 and lower in 2 states

Score gaps narrow in some states

Nationally representative samples of 213,100 fourth-graders and 168,200 eighth-graders participated in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.

Students’ reading comprehension unchanged from 2009 at grade 4, and improves at grade 8

At grade 4, the average reading score in 2011 was unchanged from 2009 but 4 points higher than in 1992.

  • Scores were higher in 2011 than in 2009 for students from both higher-income families (i.e., students not eligible for the National School Lunch Program) and lower-income families (i.e., students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch).

At grade 8, the average reading score in 2011 was 1 point higher than in 2009, and 5 points higher than in 1992.

  • Scores were higher in 2011 than in 2009 for White, Black, and Hispanic students but did not change significantly for Asian/Pacific Islander or American Indian/Alaska Native students. While the White – Hispanic score gap was smaller in 2011 than in 2009, there was no significant change in the White – Black gap over the same period.

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

Image of graphic showing the grade 4 average reading scores for 1992, 1994, 1998 without accommodations, and 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 with

 Image of graphic showing the grade 8 average reading scores for 1992, 1994, 1998 without accommodations, and 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 with accommodations, respectively: scores were 260*, 260*, 264, 263*, 264, 263*, 262*, 263*, 264*, and 265.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2011.
See complete data for grade 4 and grade 8.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1992-2011 Reading Assessments.

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Higher percentage of eighth-graders perform at or above Proficient than in 2009

At grade 4, the percentages of students performing at or above Basic, at or above Proficient, or at Advanced did not change significantly from 2009 to 2011 but were higher in 2011 than in 1992.

Trend in fourth-grade NAEP reading achievement-level results

Image of graphic showing trend in fourth-grade NAEP reading achievement-level results.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2011.
See complete data for grade 4.

At grade 8, the percentage of students performing at or above the Proficient level in 2011 was higher than in 2009 and 1992. The percentage of students at Advanced in 2011 (3.4) was higher than in 2009 (2.8). The percentage of students at or above Basic did not change significantly from 2009 to 2011 but was higher in 2011 than in 1992.

Trend in eighth-grade NAEP reading achievement-level results

Image of graphic showing trend in eighth-grade NAEP reading achievement-level results.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2011.
See complete data for grade 8.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1992–2011 Reading Assessments.

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Examples of knowledge and skills demonstrated by students performing at each achievement level


Basic
  • Interpret a character’s statement to describe a character trait
    (grade 4).
  • Recognize the main purpose of an informative article
    (grade 8).
Proficient
  • Recognize the main problem that the character faces in a story
    (grade 4).
  • Recognize the main purpose of an informative article
    (grade 8).
Advanced
  • Use story events to support an opinion about story type
    (grade 4).
  • Form an opinion about a central issue in argument text and support with references
    (grade 8).

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Scores in 12 states higher than in 2009 at grade 4 or 8 and lower in 2 states


Changes in average reading scores for public school students from 2009 to 2011
  Both grades Grade 4 only Grade 8 only
Higher Hawaii
Maryland
Alabama
Massachusetts
Colorado
Connecticut
Idaho
Michigan
Montana
Nevada
North Carolina
Rhode Island
Lower  No states Missouri
South Dakota
 No states
Scores were not significantly different from 2009 at either grade in 38 states and jurisdictions.

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Score gaps narrow in some states


At grade 4

Score gaps between higher- and lower-income students narrowed from 2003 to 2011 in four states.

The states were Arizona, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Score gaps between higher- and lower-income students widened from 2003 to 2011 in seven states/jurisdictions.

These states were Colorado, District of Columbia, Maine, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.


At grade 8

White – Black score gaps narrowed from 1998 to 2011 in 1 of 31 participating states with samples large enough to report results for both student groups.

The state was Delaware.

White – Hispanic score gaps narrowed from 1998 to 2011 in 2 of 22 participating states with samples large enough to report results for both student groups.

These states were California and Oregon.

Racial/ethnic gaps did not widen from 1998 to 2011 in any of the states that participated in both years.


Note: In NAEP, lower-income students are students identified as eligible for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Higher-income students are not eligible for NSLP.

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

PDF The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011 report PDF (29895K PDF)

NCES 2012-457  Ordering information


Suggested Citation
National Center for Education Statistics (2011). The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2011  (NCES 2012–457). 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 2011 Reading assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 27 October 2011 (RH)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education