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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2007-039
September 2007

Indicator 9: Trends in Reading and Mathematics Achievement

The long-term trend National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has provided information on the reading and mathematics achievement of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-olds in the United States since the early 1970s and is used as a measure of progress over time. These results may differ from the main NAEP results presented in indicator 10 as the content of the long-term trend assessment has remained consistent over time, while the main NAEP undergoes changes periodically. The long-term trend NAEP also differs from the main NAEP in terms of racial/ethnic categories: data are only available for White, Black, and Hispanic students.

Reading

On the long-term trend reading assessment, White, Black, and Hispanic 9-year-olds all scored higher in 2004 than in any previous assessment year excluding 1971.19 White, Black, and Hispanic 13-year-olds also scored higher in 2004 than in 1975 (the first year for which reading assessment data were collected separately for Hispanics). Among 17-year-olds in 2004, the average scores for Blacks and Hispanics were higher than in 1975; however, for Whites there was no measurable difference from those in 1975. For 13-year-olds and 17-year-olds in all three racial/ethnic groups, the average scores in 2004 were not measurably different from those in 1999.

In 2004, at all levels, White students scored higher on the reading assessment than did Black and Hispanic students. The differences in scores for Black and White students have decreased between the 1975 and 2004 assessments across all three ages. During this time period, the score gap between Black and White students decreased from 35 to 26 points for 9-year-olds, from 36 to 22 points for 13-year-olds, and from 52 to 29 points for 17-year-olds. Between 1975 and 2004, the score gap between Hispanic and White students decreased from 34 to 21 points for 9-year-olds, and from 41 to 29 points for 17-year-olds. The score gap between Hispanic and White 13-year-olds in 2004 was not measurably different from the gap in 1975.

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Mathematics

On the long-term mathematics assessment in 2004, average scores were higher than in any previous assessment year for White, Black, and Hispanic 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds. Among 17-year-olds, the average scores for all three groups were higher in 2004 than in 1973, but were not measurably different from the more recent assessment in 1999.

As with the reading assessment, White students outperformed Black and Hispanic students at all three levels on the mathematics assessment in 2004. The score gap between Black and White students decreased for all three levels between the first (1973) and most recent (2004) assessments. During this time period, the score gap between Black and White students decreased from 35 to 23 points for 9-year-olds, from 46 to 27 points for 13-year-olds, and from 40 to 28 points for 17-year-olds. Between 1973 and 2004, the score gap between Hispanic and White students decreased from 35 to 23 points for 13-year-olds and from 33 to 24 points for 17-year-olds. The score gap for 9-year-old Hispanic and White students in 2004 (18 points) was not measurably different from the score gap in 1973, but was smaller than in 1999 (26 points).

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19 In 1971, students of Hispanic origin were included in the White and Black race categories. Therefore, estimates for White and Black students in 1971 are not comparable to estimates for these groups in later years.

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