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Washington’s Scores Above Nation on NAEP Reading, Math
The state’s 4th and 8th grade students mirror the nation on the national assessment as overall scores remain generally flat

OLYMPIA — November 1, 2011 — Washington’s fourth- and eighth-grade students continue to perform above the national average in reading and math, but their average scores on the 2011 National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) mirrored the national trend and remained generally flat from two years ago. Results from the 2011 tests were released today.

In math, Washington students finished with an average score of 243 in fourth grade and 288 in eighth grade. The national average was 240 (fourth grade) and 283 (eighth grade). Less than 10 states finished statistically higher than Washington in both grades.

In reading, Washington’s eighth graders finished at 268 compared to the national average of 264. In fourth grade, both the Washington (221) and national average (220) remained the same from when students last tested in 2009. Washington’s scores finished in the middle of the pack nationally in reading.

“Just like with our state exams, we are seeing the trend of our test results flattening out,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “With the continued cuts to education, we don’t expect that trend to change. Our students and teachers have done a tremendous job of continuing to excel despite diminishing resources.”

Washington students participated in NAEP reading and math in early 2011 in the fourth and eighth grades. The reading and math exams were given to approximately 4,000 fourth graders in 130 elementary and 3,100 eighth graders in 140 middle schools. The same students did not take both the reading and math exams.

School-level results are not released 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 state-level NAEP reading and math exams will occur in early 2013.

Dorn said one of his biggest concerns remains reading in lower grades. He noted that fourth-grade NAEP scores remained flat as have scores on the state’s Measurements of Student Progress.

“Early learning plays a hugely important role in a student’s success in later years,” Dorn said. “We’ve seen a significant decrease in funding for class size in grades K-4 and all-day kindergarten. We need to ensure all students receive the instruction they need and deserve in early grades to succeed throughout their school career.”

The achievement gaps in reading and math saw no statistically significant changes on the NAEP in fourth or eighth grade from the 2009 results.

“The fact we didn’t make any significant improvements in the achievement gap is greatly concerning,” Dorn said. “The funding we are cutting to our schools affects the students who need it the most. I can’t say that enough.”

In math, the NAEP assesses students on five math content areas: numbers and operations, measurements, geometry, algebra and data analysis and statistics. The scale score range on the national assessment in 0-500; the proficiency range is 249-281 for fourth grade and 299-332 for eighth grade.

The NAEP reading exam 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 in 0-500; the proficiency range for fourth graders is 238-267 and 281-322 for eighth grade.

NAEP reports its results at three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. It defines proficiency as “competency over challenging subject matter.” Washington, with four achievement levels, defines proficiency as mastery over grade-level work.

For more information on NAEP testing and the 2011 test results, visit the Nation’s Report Card site at For state-specific results, visit Washington’s NAEP page.


About OSPI
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.

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Chris Barron
Assessment Communications Manager
(360) 725-6032

The OSPI Communications Office serves as the central point of contact for local, regional and national media covering K-12 education issues.

Communications Manager
Nathan Olson
(360) 725-6015

Assessment Communications Manager
Chris Barron
(360) 725-6032


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