Nation’s Report Card: Disappointing results for Washington and nation, little growth in math and reading scores

The Nation’s Report Card, the best national assessment of student learning, is out. The results are underwhelming. Seattle Times reporter Neil Morton writes,

Since 2009, Washington student scores on a federal achievement test have largely stagnated in mathematics and reading — mirroring a national trend that some have dubbed “education’s lost decade.”

The only bright spot in the Evergreen State: Eighth-grade reading results have shown marked improvement since both 2009 and 2015, according to test scores released this week for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP site provides a helpful interactive site for reviewing each state’s results as well as national history. Here’s Washington’s page. As Morton reports,

Results for 2017 show the only significant change in Washington’s scores was a 5-point gain (NAEP uses a 500-point scale) in eighth-grade reading since the tests were last given in 2015.

But in each grade and subject, fewer than half of Washington students scored at or above the “proficient” level on NAEP, which many consider a high bar.

He gets a reaction from Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal.

Reykdal found some cause for celebration in the 2017 scores: In both grades and subjects, Washington’s scores outperformed the national average and most other states. Eighth-graders here, for example, posted the sixth-highest scores in math and seventh-highest scores in reading.

“We are a very high-achieving state, we have high standards, and it shows,” Reykdal said.

The Center for Education Reform says the national results show a nation still at risk, referring to the landmark report on American education released in 1983.

“This month 35 years ago, extraordinary findings and bold recommendations for action catalyzed a nation. These scores are a sobering reminder that we remain a nation with far too many children and young adults poorly educated, unprepared to enter college or the workforce, and ultimately, unable to achieve the American Dream of living a rewarding, prosperous life,” said Jeanne Allen, Founder & CEO of the Center for Education Reform.

The Associated Press reports,

Fourth-graders made no improvements in math or reading, while eighth-graders’ scores were flat in math and only slightly improved in reading, according to results released Tuesday on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Overall, only roughly a third of American eighth-graders are proficient in reading and math along with about 40 percent of fourth-graders.

The figures are in line with recent trends. Students made big gains in the 1990s and early 2000s, but there have been no major improvements since then.

Morton points out NAEP’s assessment of “proficiency” sets a relatively high bar.

On many standardized tests, a proficient score suggests a master of skills expected at a given grade level. NAEP, meanwhile, goes above that and defines “proficient” as “an aspiration goal for what all students should know.”

More on the report card at Politico.

Our Opportunity Washington Scorecard uses NAEP scores in assessing progress on our Achieve priority.