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Youth Indicators, 2005: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth

Indicator 13: Reading Proficiency

Figure 13. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores of 13- and 17-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: Various years, 1971 to 2004

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores of 13- and 17-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: Various years, 1971 to 2004
1All participants of this age were in school.
NOTE: The NAEP scores range from 0 to 500, but have been evaluated at certain performance levels. A score of 150 implies an ability to follow written directions and select phrases to describe pictures. A score of 200 implies an ability to understand, combine ideas, and make inferences based on short uncomplicated passages about specific or sequentially related information. A score of 250 implies an ability to search for specific information, interrelate ideas, and make generalizations about rather lengthy literature, science, and social studies materials. A score of 300 implies an ability to find, understand, summarize, and explain relatively complicated literary and informational material. A score of 350 implies an ability to extend, restructure, and synthesize ideas presented in specialized and complex scientific materials, literary essays, and historical documents. Excludes persons not enrolled in school and those who were unable to be tested due to limited proficiency in English or due to a disability. Includes students in public and private schools.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2004 Trends in Academic Progress, Three Decades of Student Performance in Reading and Mathematics, 2005.

Students at age 13 showed no significant improvements in recent years of the reading assessment; however the average score in 2004 was higher than that in 1971. For 17 year-olds, the average reading score for 2004 was not measurably different from the score in 1971; however, their 2004 score was lower than their score in 1990. The average 2004 reading scores for Black students at both ages were higher than in 1971; however no measurable differences were found between the 1990 and 2004 assessments for either age. The average score for Hispanic students at age 13 and 17 showed an increase between 1975 and 2004. Although the difference appears large between the average scores of Hispanic 17-year-olds between 1999 and 2004, no statistically significant change was measured due to a smaller sample size and the large associated standard errors. A wide performance gap remained between White students and their Black and Hispanic peers. However, the gap between Whites and Blacks narrowed between 1971 and 2004 for 13- and 17-year-olds, while the gap between Whites and Hispanics narrowed between 1975 and 2004 for 17-year-olds. Females outscored their male peers in both age groups in 2004, and the gaps are not different from the gaps in 1971.


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