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The Nation's Report Card — Results from the 2007 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Assessments
Dr. Peggy G. Carr Good afternoon, and welcome to our StatChat on the NAEP 2007 Reading and Mathematics reports. I hope you've had time to examine the results and that I can answer any questions you may have. There are many findings for all both grades and I'm interested to hear which ones you want to talk about. So, let's get right to your questions...
Erin from Toms River, NJ asked:
How much does the educational background of the teacher play into the student's achievement?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Erin, the National Assessment of Educational Progress data contains information about the educational background of teachers. You can see how that background correlates with student performance using our NAEP Data Explorer (NDE) at ( Even though it is commonly assumed that such background is very important for improving student achievement, NAEP's design is not capable of establishing a causal connection between teacher background and student performance.

Marianne from Dover, NH asked:
What steps have you taken to ensure that increases in state scores can be interpreted as improvements in student performance rather than changes in the population assessed? (e.g., changes in sampling, changes in inclusion rates, changes in demographics)

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
The trend results reported are calculated to be representative of the trend changes for the state. Samples are selected to be representative of the state?s population. In addition, state coordinators do check to ensure that the proportions of various demographic groups match what is found in the state data. NAEP does not standardize the results, even as the demographic distribution changes over time. Therefore, the scores reflect the performance of the current demographic distribution.

The inclusion rates do vary over time and vary across states. Because the representation of samples is ultimately a validity issue, NCES has investigated scenarios for estimating what the average scores might have been if excluded students had been assessed. One such scenario projects what the performance of excluded students with disabilities (SD) and/or English language learners (ELL) might have been if these students had been tested. The basic assumption underlying this approach is that these students would have performed as well as included SD and/or ELL students with similar disabilities, level of English proficiency, and background characteristics. The results of the scenario are available at the NCES website ( The methods used to construct the scenario are still under development. The scenario illustrates the potential impact of reasonable hypotheses about the performance of excluded students on score gains in the states and other jurisdictions that participated in NAEP in 2007, and should not be interpreted as official results.

Candace from State College, PA asked:
Will IES be updating its reports on NAEP results from states with high American Indian/Alaska Native student populations?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Yes. IES is again planning to release two separate reports on American Indian/Alaska Native students. The first report will focus on student achievement in reading and mathematics. This year we will have results for 11 states with high American Indian/Alaska Native student populations. The second report will provide the results of an Indian Education Survey administered to AI/AN students, their teachers and school principals. The reports are planned to be released in Spring of 2008. There are some mathematics and reading results for these 11 states (based on just their public school data) available now on the NAEP Data Explorer, which can be accessed at ( However, the upcoming reports will be based on data from both the public schools as well as Bureau of Indian Education schools in each state, so the results will differ.

Yolonda from Rock Hill, SC asked:
I am trying to get the statistics of African American males lack of language and literacy that's effecting the success to their children school readiness.

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
You can find statistics on the literacy skills of African American males on the website of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) at ( This survey is distinct from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which measures the reading and mathematics achievement of school children. Both assessment programs are conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Neither study is designed to establish a causal relationship, or to measure quantitatively the extent to which literacy weaknesses of parents are passed along to their children. However, both data sets contain a wealth of background variables useful in understanding important correlates.

Laura from Denver, CO asked:
Knowing there are multiple inputs, based on your analysis what do you believe has been the single most important factor in increasing student math achievement?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
As I pointed out in my answer to Erin, NAEP was not well designed to establish the impact of any particular factor on student achievement. However, I suggest you explore the correlates using our NAEP Data Explorer tool at ( Or, please check out this page ( Erin may want to take a look at this page, too.

Anne from Washington, DC asked:
During the press conference one of the reporters called attention to the drop in scores from 1992 to 2007 in grade 4 reading for Oklahoma. Can you add any information about Oklahoma's performance over time?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
While it?s true that the 4-th grade reading scores for Oklahoma are statistically lower in 2007 than in 1992, it is important to look at the entire trend line to get the complete story. The drop in scores occurred in 2002, but the scores have steadily increased since then, with 2007 (217) statistically higher than 2003 (214). So, Oklahoma has reversed its downward trend. Another thing to keep in mind is that, in 1992, no testing accommodations (e.g., extended time) were allowed for students with disabilities or English Language Learners, and therefore the 2007 sample is more inclusive than it was in 1992.

Linda from Seattle, WA asked:
What are the next NAEP results that will be released by NCES and when will they be available?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Linda, the next NAEP results scheduled for release are the 2007 mathematics and reading Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results. A release date has not been scheduled yet, but will be set later this fall.

Kara from Washington, DC asked:
Can you please speak to NCES's data on Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility in charter schools vs. non charter public schools? Wouldn't it be safe to say that it is probably not the best indicator for poverty considering schools may choose not to participate in the program for a number of reasons, especially charter schools? Therefore it does not give an accurate picture of the disadvantaged students actually being served in charters.

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
There are many factors to consider in evaluating NAEP?s poverty measure (participation in free/reduced price lunch) including the percentage of ?information not available?. Charter school participation may be less applicable because the percentage of ?information not available? is higher than for public schools. Further information can be obtained by examining additional questions such as ?Does you school participate in National School Lunch Program?? and ?why does your school not participate in the NSLP?? as found in the NAEP Data Explorer at ( NAEP continues to seek improved, alternative socioeconomic status (SES) measures.

Maisie from New York, NY asked:
Neither the direction nor the size of the changes from 2005 to 2007 mirror results from New York State's tests. This is so in both subjects and grades. What does this say about the state tests?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Maisie, This is not an easy question to answer because there are many possible reasons why results from two tests may look different from each other. If you are looking at the percentage of students who have reached a level of proficiency on two different tests, it really depends on how proficiency is defined on the two tests and where the ?cut score? (or passing score) is set on each. You may be interested in a report we released on this topic earlier this year entitled "Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Standards Onto the NAEP Scales." In the study upon which that report is based we did find that NAEP?s cut score for ?Proficient" was higher than that for most states, including New York. In addition, please keep in mind that the NAEP assessment is a survey based on representative samples of students?-as such, there is a margin of error around the NAEP results that should be taken into account. We consider the margin of error before we declare that student performance is going up or going down. For example, today we reported that 4th-grade math scores went up in New York between 2005 and 2007, but we did not detect a significant change in average 8th-grade math scores or in average reading scores at either grade, although there were some numeric increases for different groups of students.

Beth from Brookeville, MD asked:
There are so many numbers; it's hard to keep them straight. I'm trying to understand what the differences in NAEP scores mean across subjects and grades. Fourth graders had an average reading score of 220; 8th graders had average score of 261 (roughly about 10 points per grade); In math, 4th graders were at 239 and 8th graders were at 280-- (again, about a 40 point difference or 10 points per grade). My questions are (1) has the Department conducted any studies to see if the 10 points per grade level is accurate? (2) are 4th graders better in reading than they are in math, by about 2 grade levels? (3) what about 8th graders-- it looks like they are a lot better in Math than they are in Reading?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Beth, the difference between average scores at grades 4, 8, and 12 are often about 40 points apart, so it is possible that there is about a 10-point difference between grades. But this assumes learning progresses at a uniform rate through the school years. Research indicates that learning may be more rapid in the early years, so the 10-points-per-grade is an estimate. We are conducting a couple of studies that will address this question: a study of performance in algebra at grade 8, and a study of motivation of 12th grade students. Both these studies will provide empirical insight into performance growth. Results should be available in 2008. As to your question about grade 4 reading performance vs. math performance, a higher score in one subject than another does not necessarily mean that performance is better in that subject. In NAEP, scores for different subjects are not comparable. The score scales are set independently for each subject. So, for example, a score of 215 in reading does not necessarily reflect the same performance level as 215 in mathematics. Similarly at grade 8, the higher math score does not necessarily reflect higher performance. It may be useful to look at the achievement-level results, in the context of the achievement-level definitions for each grade found in the Report Cards. These are specific statements of the types of skills students have at each level.

Barry from Denver, CO asked:
When will the next 12th grade results be released?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
Assessment will be done in 2009 and results will be released in Spring 2010.

Ellen from Nashua, NH asked:
Where can we find information on the types of accommodations allowed on NAEP assessments and how the actual accommodations used may vary by state?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
NAEP allows students with disabilities and English language learners to use most of the testing accommodations that they receive for state or district tests. Accommodations are adaptations to standard testing procedures that remove barriers to participation in assessments without changing what is being tested. Examples of such accommodations are extended time and small-group or one-on-one administration. In the reading assessment, however, NAEP does not allow reading passages or questions to be read aloud to the student, as that accommodation would alter what is being tested, i.e., the student?s ability to read the printed word in English. For the same reason, NAEP does not allow translation of the reading test. NAEP does offer bilingual test booklets for mathematics in English and Spanish. Additional information on inclusion issues can be found on the web,
For mathematics, at (
For reading, at (

Catherine from Nonotuck, IN asked:
Why do you think that the gap in scores between White and Black students narrowed in reading, but not in mathematics?

Dr. Peggy G. Carr 's response:
The report shows that the gap is closing for White and Black students in reading grade 4, and in mathematics grade 4 and 8. Please refer to pages 11 and 29 in the reading report and 11 and 27 in the mathematics report. For Gaps, also select the grade and White-Black or White-Hispanic at ( and (

Dr. Peggy G. Carr :
Thanks for all the excellent questions. Unfortunately, I could not get to all of them, but please feel free to contact NAEP staff or myself for more information. I hope that you found this chat helpful and the report interesting. Please visit the web site in the coming weeks for more information on the release of the NAEP trial urban district (TUDA) reports in Reading and Mathematics.