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Grover J. Whitehurst

Director, Institute of Education Sciences

Acting Commissioner, National Center for Education Statistics

National Assessment of Educational Progress

October 19, 2005

**INTRODUCTION**

Good morning. My name is Russ Whitehurst, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences and Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. I am here today to release the 2005 reading and mathematics assessments from the National Assessment of Educational Progress - the 2005 Mathematics and Reading Report Cards.

These assessments were given earlier this year to 4th- and 8th-grade students across the country. We conduct these assessments every two years, so we will be comparing the 2005 results to the results from the last assessment, in 2003.

**OVERVIEW OF THE 2005 MATHEMATICS AND READING ASSESSMENTS**

We had very large samples for reading and mathematics in 2005 - a total of approximately 660,000 students participating in the national assessments. We are reporting results for the nation, 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 were developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, or NAGB, to set standards for what students should know and be able to do. For each subject and each grade, NAGB has established standards for *Basic*, *Proficient*, and *Advanced* performance. When we make comparisons using achievement levels, we usually look at the percentage of students who performed at or above Basic, which also includes students performing at the *Proficient* and *Advanced* achievement levels, and the percentage who performed at or above *Proficient*.

When we make comparisons involving either scale scores or achievement level percentages, we must remember that all of our NAEP results are based on samples. This means that there is a margin of error associated with every score and percentage. Differences in scores and percentages have been tested to ensure that they are statistically significant; that is, that they are larger than the combined margin of error.

Because we have a lot of results to cover today, I'm going to give you a brief overview first, and then go on to a more detailed presentation of the results.

**OVERALL FINDINGS FROM 2003 TO 2005 - GRADE 4**

Let's look at the overall fourth-grade results from 2003 to 2005. Both mathematics and reading scores increased since 2003. In mathematics, we see an increase in the percentage of fourth-graders performing at or above *Proficient* for all five of the nation's major racial/ethnic groups. In reading, however, we do not see an improvement in the percentages of fourth-graders at or above Basic or at or above *Proficient*. In both mathematics and reading, White students continued to have higher scores than Black students, but the gaps have narrowed since the last assessment.

**OVERALL FINDINGS FROM 2003 TO 2005 - GRADE 8**

For grade 8, we see an increase in average mathematics scores, and a decrease in average reading scores. In reading, the percentages of White students performing at or above Basic and at or above Proficient declined. But in mathematics, the percentages of Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and White students performing at or above *Proficient* increased. The White-Black score gap narrowed in mathematics. The White-Hispanic score gap narrowed in both mathematics and reading.

**MATHEMATICS 2005**

Now we'll look at our 2005 mathematics results in more detail, for both grades 4 and 8, followed by the results for reading.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS - GRADE 4**

The national average score for grade 4 mathematics in 2005 was higher than in any previous assessment. In 1990 and 1992 we did not allow accommodations for special- needs students - those with disabilities and English language learners in the 1990 and 1992 assessments. In 1996 we began offering accommodations to those students who needed them to participate, and in that year only we conducted the assessment with two samples, to determine the effect of allowing accommodations. This is why we show two scores for 1996. We continue to permit accommodations, which makes NAEP more representative.

The percentages of fourth-grade students who performed at or above *Basic* and at or above *Proficient* in mathematics are both higher than ever before. The percentage of students who performed at or above Basic rose from 50 percent in 1990 to 80 percent in 2005. The percentage at or above *Proficient* rose from 13 percent to 36 percent during the same time period.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

When we look at mathematics performance at grade 4 for the five racial/ethnic groups, we see improvement across the board. Scores are up for each group by 20 points or more since 1990 and 3 points or more since 2003. We did not have adequate samples for Asian/Pacific Islander students in 1990, so the comparisons are made to 1992 for this group. For American Indian/Alaska Native students, we are not able to make comparisons to years prior to 2003. These students constitute about 1 percent of the student population, and in the earlier assessments our samples were not large enough to provide us with meaningful data.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

We also see improved performance when we look at the achievement level percentages. Higher percentages of students in four out of five groups scored at or above *Basic*, and higher percentages of all groups scored at or above *Proficient*.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

The trend lines for the five racial/ethnic groups show the following patterns: For White fourth-graders, scores are higher in 2005 than in any previous assessment. This is true for Black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students as well. For American Indian/Alaska Native students, we only have scores for the past two assessments, with an increase for 2005.

When we look at score gaps, we see that gaps of 20 points or more remain, despite the improvement in scores for all groups. However, the gap in scores between White and Black students has shown improvement-- at 26 points, it is smaller than ever before. The White-Hispanic gap of 20 points, on the other hand, has not changed significantly, compared to 1990 or 2003.

**CHANGES IN AVERAGE SCORES FROM 2003 TO 2005, GRADE 4 MATHEMATICS, BY JURISDICTION**

State mathematics results for fourth-graders also show improvement. In 2005, 33 of 52 states and jurisdictions had higher scores, while none experienced a decline.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS - GRADE 8**

When we look at mathematics scores for grade 8, we also see improvement. The national average score for eighth-graders was higher in 2005 than in any previous assessment. This is true for the percentages of students at or above *Basic* and at or above *Proficient* as well. In 1990, 15 percent of students scored at or above *Proficient*, and by 2005, it had doubled, to 30 percent.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

The results for White, Black, and Hispanic eighth-graders show a pattern of higher scores - up 16 points or more. However, for Asian/Pacific Islander students there is no increase as compared to 1992, and for American Indian/Alaska Native students, no increase compared to 2003.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

When we look at the achievement level percentages, we see improvement across the board for Black and Hispanic students, for both at or above *Basic* and at or above *Proficient*. White students showed increases in all but the percentage at or above *Basic* from 2003 to 2005. Asian/Pacific Islander students had an increase only for the percentage at or above *Proficient* since 2003. For American Indian/Alaska Native students, we don't see any changes.

**NATIONAL MATHEMATICS RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

The trend lines for the five racial-ethnic groups show that mathematics scores for White eighth-graders were higher than ever before. Scores for Black and Hispanic students were higher than ever before as well. For Asian/Pacific Islander students, the average score in 2005 was not significantly higher than in 1992, but was higher than in 2003. Scores for American Indian/Alaska Native students did not show a significant change.

When we look at the White-Black score gap, we see improvement since the last assessment, but not in comparison with 1990. The same is true for the White-Hispanic score gap.

**CHANGES IN AVERAGE SCORES FROM 2003 TO 2005, GRADE 8 MATHEMATICS, BY JURISDICTION**

State mathematics results at grade 8 show that most states did not change significantly since the last assessment, but seven states did experience increases. No state showed a decline.

**NATIONAL 2005 READING RESULTS - GRADE 4**

The 2005 reading scale score results at the fourth grade show a 2-point increase since 1992 and a 1-point increase since 2003. When we look at achievement level percentages, we see an increase in the percentage at or above *Proficient* compared to the first assessment and no changes compared to the last.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

When we look at scores for the major racial/ethnic groups, we see that Black and Hispanic students' scores have risen since the last assessment, and that scores for four racial/ethnic groups have risen at least 5 points since 1992.

It may not seem at first glance that the scores for all four of these groups could increase by at least 5 points while the overall score only increased by 2 points. This occurred because 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, 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.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

The achievement level results for percentages at or above *Basic* and at or above *Proficient* show a generally similar pattern - improvement since 1992 for the four larger racial/ethnic groups (i.e., all but American Indian/Alaska Native) but no improvement since 2003.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 4**

Now let's look at the trend lines for the five racial/ethnic groups. For White students, average scores are up from the first assessment, but show no change since 2003. Black students had higher scores in 2005 than either the first or the last assessment. Hispanic students show the same pattern as Black students. Asian/Pacific Islander students had higher scores only in comparison to 1992. We have results from three assessments for American Indian/Alaska Native students, and don't see a significant change. When we look at gap data, we see that the White-Black score gap narrowed in comparison to 2003. We see the same result for the White-Hispanic gap.

**CHANGES IN AVERAGE SCORES FROM 2003 TO 2005, GRADE 4 READING, BY JURISDICTION**

State reading results at grade 4 show no change for most jurisdictions. Seven states and the Department of Defense school system had higher scores and two states had declines.

**NATIONAL 2005 READING RESULTS - GRADE 8**

Now we'll look at reading scale score results for eighth-graders. Average scores have risen 2 points since 1992 but have fallen 1 point since 2003. The achievement level percentages generally follow the same pattern - a higher percentage at or above *Basic* in comparison to 1992, along with declines in both the percentages at or above *Basic* and *Proficient* since the last assessment.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

White, Black, and Hispanic students had higher scores than in 1992, with increases of 4 to 6 points. The only change from 2003 was a decline in the average score of White students.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

Trends in achievement level percentages show a similar pattern. White, Black, and Hispanic students had higher percentages at or above *Basic* than in 1992. No group had an increase from 2003, and the percentage for White students declined. White and Black students also had a higher percentage at or above *Proficient* than in the first assessment. No group had an increase from 2003 and, again, White students declined.

**NATIONAL READING RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY - GRADE 8**

Now we're going to look at the trend lines for the racial-ethnic groups. White students had an increase since the first assessment and a decline since the last. Black students also had an increase since 1992, but showed no significant change in their scores since 2003.

The pattern for Hispanic students was similar to that of Black students. Asian/Pacific Islander students did not show a significant difference for either comparison year. The average score in 2005 for American Indian/Alaska Native students was not significantly different from their average in either of the two preceding assessments.

Looking at gaps, we see that the White-Black gap did not change significantly whether compared to 1992 or 2003. The White-Hispanic score gap narrowed by 2 points from the last assessment.

**CHANGES IN AVERAGE SCORES FROM 2003 TO 2005, GRADE 8 READING, BY JURISDICTION**

Average scores did not change in most states. No state had an increase and seven had declines.

**FOR MORE INFORMATION**

That completes my overview of results from the 2005 mathematics and reading assessments. There is much more information in the Report Cards themselves. In addition, the initial release website will give you extensive information on the performance of students in each state, access to released assessment questions, and use of the NAEP Data Explorer, our new online data-analysis tool.

In closing, I would like to thank the students and schools who participated in these assessments. I would also like to thank my staff, and the contractors who worked on this assessment. Thank you.

Powerpoint presentation for National Assessment of Educational Progress - Mathematics and Reading 2005 (PPT 5,623KB)

For more information on National Assessment of Educational Progress, please visit the NAEP NCES website (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/) or contact NCES staff.