State officials put the best spin they could find Wednesday on this year’s National Assessment of Educational Progress scores from Texas fourth- and eighth-grade students, but the performance was not good.
The NAEP is called the nation’s report card. It’s congressionally mandated, administered periodically since 1969 to measure academic achievement among a sampling of U.S. students.
During testing periods from January through March, 5,700 Texas fourth-graders in 480 schools and 5,800 Texas eighth-graders in 380 schools took NAEP math tests. The numbers were similar for reading tests.
TEA pointed proudly to fourth-grade math scores, where the Texas average (244) was higher than the national average (240) and was up from the previous state record high (242) recorded in 2013 and two previous years.
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Education Commissioner Michael Williams credited “effective professional development support for our educators that, in turn, leads to strong instruction in our classrooms.”
Nationally, fourth-grade math scores went down.
But the fourth-grade math achievement was the best Texas could offer up. The National Center for Education Statistics even referred to those state gains as “not significantly different” from 2013.
The Texas eighth-grade math average (284) was down from 2013 (288). Thirty-two percent of eighth-graders performed at the NAEP Proficient level in math, down from 38 percent in 2013.
For both fourth- and eighth-graders in math, the state has not made significant progress since 2000 in narrowing achievement gaps between minority students and white students.
Low-income fourth-graders have fallen farther behind their more well-off classmates in math.
On reading tests, average scores for fourth-graders (218) and eighth-graders (261) were each down three points and have not changed significantly since 1998.
Female students score significantly higher than male students in reading, six points in fourth grade and nine points in eighth grade.
Just as in math, minority achievement gaps in reading have not changed significantly since 1998.
Black student average scores are 30 points behind white students in fourth grade and 23 points behind in eighth grade.
The average scores for Hispanic students are 25 points lower than white students in fourth grade and 21 points lower in eighth grade.
Patting Texas educators and the legislators who say they support education on the back for a job well done would be great. The numbers just aren’t there.