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Mark Schneider
Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

National Assessment of Educational Progress
The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2007 & The Nation's Report Card: Mathematics 2007

September 25, 2007

Commissioner Mark Schneider's Powerpoint Presentation MS PowerPoint (1.93 MB)

Introduction

Today I am releasing the results of the 2007 reading and mathematics assessments from the National Assessment of Educational Progress-the NAEP Report Cards in these subjects for 2007. These assessments were given earlier this year to 4th- and 8th-grade students across the country.

The Nation's Report Card: Reading 2007
The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2007

Overview of the 2007 Mathematics and Reading Assessments

About 700,000 students participated in the two assessments. We have results for the nation and for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense school system.

NAEP reports student performance in two ways: scale scores and achievement levels. NAEP scale scores indicate what students know and can do, using separate scales for reading and mathematics that range from zero to five hundred. Achievement levels, developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, set standards for what students should know and be able to do. For each subject and for each grade, the Governing Board has established standards for Basic, Proficient, and Advanced performance. Ultimately, the goal is to have all students performing at or above the Proficient level. Today I will be reporting on the percentages of students who performed at or above Basic, those who performed at or above Proficient, and those who performed at the Advanced level.

In comparing results based on either scale scores or achievement level percentages, it is important to keep in mind that NAEP results are based on samples. For this reason, there is a margin of error associated with each score. When comparing scores and other NAEP results we only discuss differences that are larger than the margin of error-those that are statistically significant. In the tables and figures in the Report Cards, an asterisk is placed next to a score or percentage from a previous assessment when the difference with 2007 is statistically significant. I will mainly compare student performance in 2007 with performance on the last assessment, in 2005, and the first assessment for a given subject and grade, which ranges from 1990 to 1998.

First I will present a brief overview, then describe the findings for each subject in more detail.

Overall Findings from 2005 to 2007 - Grade 4

Both reading and mathematics scores increased since 2005.

In both subjects, there was an increase in the percentage of students performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient.

Again, in both subjects, White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander fourth-grade students attained higher scores than their peers in 2005.

The gap in scores between White and Black students narrowed in reading, but not in mathematics.

Overall Findings from 2005 to 2007 - Grade 8

At grade 8, there was also an increase in scores for both subjects.

In both subjects, a higher percentage of students performed at or above Basic.

The percentage of students performing at or above Proficient increased in mathematics only.

Scores rose for White and Black students in both subjects and for Hispanics in mathematics.

The White-Black score gap narrowed in mathematics.

2007 Reading Results

I will now present reading results for the fourth and eighth grades in more detail.

National Results, Grade 4

The 2007 average reading scale score at the fourth grade increased 2 points since 2005 and increased 4 points since the first reading assessment in 1992. The 2007 score was higher than in any previous assessment. Students at almost all levels of performance (through the 75th percentile) showed increases, while students at the 90th percentile remained at the same level.

In terms of achievement levels, higher percentages of students scored at or above Basic and at or above Proficient in 2007 than in any previous assessment. In addition, 8 percent of 4th-graders scored at I. The 2007 percentage at Advanced was higher than in 1992 but not significantly different from 2005.

In our trend graphs, we use dotted lines for the early assessments to indicate that we did not allow accommodations for special needs studentsūthose with disabilities and English language learners. The 1998 assessment was the first reading assessment to offer accommodations to students who needed them to participate. In that year we conducted the assessment with two samples to determine the effect of allowing accommodations. Thus, the graph of trend results shows two scores for 1998. We continue to permit accommodations, which allows NAEP to include more disabled students and English language learners, thereby resulting in a sample more representative of all students.

National Results by Race/Ethnicity, Grade 4

Reading scores for the major racial/ethnic groups show increases for all groups for both comparison years, except for American Indian and Alaska Native students, whose average score in 2007 was not significantly different from 2005. (We could not compare their performance in 2007 with 1992 because the sample size in 1992 was too small.)

Scores increased for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander students from 1992 by at least 7 points. But the overall increase was only 4 points. Given the greater increases for each of the racial/ethnic groups, why wasn't the overall increase larger?

The answer is that the groups had differing average scores and the relative size of the groups has been changing. For example, the percentage of Hispanic students has increased substantially since 1992, while that of White students has declined. The average score for Hispanic students tends to be lower than the overall average, while the average score for White students tends to be higher. Thus, the increased percentage of students who, on average, had lower scores offsets the fact that all the groups were improving their performance.

The average reading score gap between White and Black students in 2007 was 27 points, narrower than in any previous assessment. The average scores of both groups in 2007 were higher than ever before, but Black students made greater gains than White students since 1992.

Scores for both White and Hispanic students were also higher than ever before in 2007. However, the gap between their scores did not show a significant change compared to either 1992 or 2005.

National Results by Family Income, Grade 4

NAEP reports student results according to their eligibility for the National School Lunch Program. We report on three groups, ranked according to family income level: those students eligible for free lunches, those eligible for reduced price lunches, and those whose family income is too high to make them eligible for any assistance. Because of changes in the availability of data, we can only make comparisons back to 2003. Scores increased for all three groups.

Trends in Average Scores of States, Grade 4

We have results for all 50 states and two additional jurisdictions-the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense school system. To simplify the discussion, I will refer to all 52 jurisdictions as "states."

Since 2005, grade 4 reading scores increased in 18 states. No state showed a decline.

Not all states participated in the 1992 NAEP assessment. But of the 42 that did, 25 showed higher average scores in 2007.

National Results, Grade 8

Now I will describe the reading scale score results for eighth-graders nationally.

Average scores are 1 point higher than in 2005 and 3 points higher than in 1992. Increases occurred among lower- and middle-performing students, those performing at the 50th percentile or below.

The achievement level percentages for students at or above Basic also show increases in 2007, compared to both 2005 and 1992. The percentage at or above Proficient and the percentage at Advanced showed no significant differences in comparison with either year.

National Results by Race/Ethnicity, Grade 8

Looking at scores by race/ethnicity, there were increases for White and Black students over both comparison years (2005 and 1992), while for Hispanic students scores were higher than in 1992 but not significantly different from 2005. Asian and Pacific Islander students and American Indian and Alaska Native students did not show increases over either comparison year for which data were available.

While scores for both White and Black students were higher in 2007 than in either 2005 or 1992, the gap between them did not change over either period.

There was also no significant change in the score gap between White and Hispanic students between 2007 and either comparison year.

National Results by Family Income, Grade 8

In contrast with the fourth grade, there were few significant changes in scores for students classified according to family income. Scores for students who were eligible for free lunches did increase from 2003 to 2007, by 2 points.

Changes in Average Scores of States, Grade 8

Since 2005, reading scores at grade 8 increased in six states-Texas, Florida, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Vermont, and Hawaii-and declined in two-North Dakota and Rhode Island.

Of the 38 states that participated in the first eighth-grade reading assessment at the state level in 1998, 6 showed higher average scores in 2007, while 7 showed declines. The 6 states with increases were Wyoming, Florida, the Department of Defense schools, the District of Columbia, Delaware, and Massachusetts.

2007 Mathematics Results

Next I will describe the mathematics results for 2007 in more detail.

National Mathematics Results, Grade 4

The overall score for grade 4 in mathematics was higher than in any previous assessment, and was 27 points higher than the first assessment in 1990.

This same pattern is evident for the achievement-level results. The percentages of students at or above Basic and at or above Proficient are both higher than ever before. This was also true for the percentage at Advanced.

National Results by Race/Ethnicity, Grade 4

There was improvement across the board in mathematics performance at grade 4 for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander students, with increases of at least 1 point since 2005 and at least 27 points since 1990. There was no significant change in performance among American Indian and Alaska Native students.

The mathematics score gap between White and Black students was narrower in 2007 than in 1990, but was not significantly different from 2005. As in the case of fourth-grade reading, scores for both groups were higher than ever before.

Scores for both White and Hispanic students were higher than ever before, but the gap did not change significantly when compared to either comparison year.

National Results by Family Income, Grade 4

Student performance in all income groups increased since 2003. This includes students eligible for free school lunches and reduced-price lunches, as well as those ineligible for the program.

Changes in Average State Scores, Grade 4

Turning to mathematics performance at the state level in 2007, we see that 23 states had higher mathematics scores compared to 2005. None experienced a decline. All 42 states that participated in the 1992 state NAEP assessment had higher scores in 2007 than in 1992.

National Mathematics Results, Grade 8

The average mathematics score for grade 8 nationally was higher in 2007 than in any previous assessment. This is also true for the percentages of students at or above Basic, those at or above Proficient, and those at Advanced.

National Results by Race/Ethnicity, Grade 8

White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander students had higher scores in 2007 compared to 1990-up 19 points or more. However, for Asian and Pacific Islander students and for American Indian and Alaska Native students, there was no significant change as compared to 2005.

The White-Black score gap was narrower in 2007 than in 2005, but was not significantly different from 1990.

Although scores for White and Hispanic students were higher than ever before, the score gap did not change significantly when compared to either comparison year.

National Results by Family Income, Grade 8

Average scores for students eligible for free school lunches and reduced-price lunches increased since 2003. Students not eligible for this program also scored higher than in 2003.

Changes in Average State Scores, Grade 8

State-level comparisons of eighth-grade mathematics performance in 2007show that 26 states had higher scores compared to 2005, while none experienced a decline. Fifteen states had increased scores for both the fourth and eighth grades since 2005. Over the long term, all 38 states that participated in the 1990 state NAEP assessment had higher scores in 2007 than in 1990.

For More Information

There is much more information in the Report Cards themselves. In addition, the initial release website will provide:

In closing, I would like to thank all the students and schools that participated in these assessments.

Commissioner Mark Schneider's Powerpoint Presentation:
The Nation's Report Card: 2007 Reading & Mathematics Assessment MS PowerPoint (1.93 MB)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
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