State Scores on National Reading Test Remain Steady
OLYMPIA – March 24, 2010 – The average reading scores of Washington fourth- and eighth-grade students remained consistent on the 2009 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). Results from the tests were released today.
Washington’s results were similar to most of the nation as just three states saw higher scores in fourth grade and nine states in eighth grade. Washington eighth graders (267) scored higher than the national average (262) and fourth graders (221) scored slightly ahead of the nation (220).
“While our students continue to do well compared to the rest of the nation, our NAEP and state exams show that scores are hitting a plateau,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “We need to be investing more in education at a time when we are cutting. We are not going to see increases in student achievement unless we amply fund education.”
The state’s average reading scale scores in fourth and eighth grades either slightly increased or decreased from 2007 in overall and subgroup categories. There was a significant decrease in the reading scale score of fourth-grade Asian students.
However, none of the other increases or decreases was considered “statistically significant,” a term used by statisticians to mean a highly reliable measure of performance. Thus, Washington’s scores are considered consistent, or flat, scores.
Washington eighth-grade students saw an increase in their average scale score from 265 in 2007 to 267 in 2009. During the same time period, the average fourth-grade reading score fell by three points to 224. Neither score was higher or lower than the previous year.
The state’s assessment results for fourth and eighth grades mirrored the NAEP results from were similar from 2007 to 2009, with fourth graders’ scores falling slightly and eighth graders’ scores increasing. However, fourth graders have traditionally passed the reading Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), the state’s former exam, at a higher percentage than most grades and eighth grade has had one of the lowest passing rates.
In 2007, 76.6 percent of fourth graders passed the reading WASL. In 2009, fourth graders’ results fell slightly to 73.6 percent. In 2007, eighth graders’ passed the reading WASL at a rate of 65 percent and 67.5 percent in 2009.
“I think these flat scores show why we had the need to change our state assessment,” Dorn said. “Our students have reached a certain level where it’s going to take plenty of hard work and additional resources to increase their achievement level.”
This May, Washington students will take the new grades 3-8 Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) for the first time. In addition, about 25 percent of students will also take the grades 6-8 reading and math test online.
Washington students participated in NAEP Reading in early 2009 in the fourth and eighth grades. The test was given to 3,365 fourth graders in 164 elementary schools and 2,785 eighth graders in 128 middle schools. School level results are not released by NAEP because not all schools are assessed by NAEP, rather only a representative sample of schools in Washington.
NAEP assesses students every two years. The next reading NAEP exam will occur in early 2011.
As Washington’s scale scores generally remained the same in fourth grade and increased in eighth grade, the state’s exclusion rate for students with disabilities (SD) and English Language Learners (ELL) students decreased. The exclusion rate is the percent of students not included in the assessment due to type of disability or the lack of a testing accommodation. A lower exclusion rate means more students are included in the assessment.
In fourth grade, the overall exclusion rate for students with disabilities and English Language Learners was 4 percent, compared to the nation’s rate of 5 percent. In eighth grade, the exclusion rate for Washington was 3 percent, compared the nation’s rate of 4 percent. Student participation rates for Washington were 93 percent for fourth grade, which includes excluded, absent and refusals, and 91 percent for eighth grade.
The NAEP Reading assessment assesses students on two reading text types (literary and informational) and three cognitive targets (locate and recall, integrate and interpret, and critique and evaluate). The scale score range on the national assessment is 0-500; the proficiency range for fourth graders is 238-268 and 281 to 322 for eighth grade.
For more information about NAEP testing in the state of Washington, visit http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/NAEP/overview.aspx.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
OSPI Communications Manager
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