State NAEP rankings largely stable, even while reading scores drop
Nationwide, student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress rarely changes greater than a point or two within the two years between test administrations. The 2021 scores, released today, bucked that trend in 8th-grade reading, in which the average score dropped by four points. The reading skills of today's 8th graders are comparable to their counterparts of 10-20 years ago. Outcome was relatively stable otherwise. Fourth-grade reading and 8th-grade math scores were down slightly, while 4th-grade math scores posted a small increase.
States' relative NAEP performance seemed to be much like recent years. The demographically adjusted scores authored by the Urban Institute reveal that Florida, Massachusetts, Nj, and Texas all posted top-5 performance on three from four tests. Students in all of these states have scored well compared to their demographic peers on recent NAEP administrations.
The stop by 8th-grade reading scores affected the majority of states, with no states posting a statistically significant increase (just the District of Columbia did). But state rankings were as stable between 2021 and 2021 as they were between 2021 and 2021 (with a year-to-year correlation of 0.90 both in pairs of years).
Change is generally more interesting than stability, there are certainly examples of states upgrading and down the rankings between 2021 and 2021. The table below shows the top and bottom five states when it comes to their improvement (or decline) within the demographically adjusted rankings across all NAEP tests. Four of the five states that increased most in the rankings have been in the South, when compared with none of these in the bottom (that are otherwise spread across the nation).
K-12 education policy is largely a state and native issue, using the authorities providing less than 10 percent of funding. This makes it all the more surprising and perplexing to determine widespread alterations in performance on one of the tests in just a two-year period. It is possible it's partly a fluke, like the 3-point drop on the 8th-grade reading test between 2021 and 2021 which was partially reversed by a 2-point gain between 2021 and 2021. But we will have to wait two more years to discover.
Shame on us
As I predicted a week ago, the NAEP recent results for 2021 are stagnant.
But what's most disappointing would be that the nation went nowhere within the last ten years. It's truly been a lost decade.
Look at 4th grade math, for example. Scale scores rose to 240 in '09 from 226 in 2000, yet they went up only one point from 2009 to 2021. In 8th grade math, scores increased to 283 in '09 from 273 in 2000; yet, they declined 1 in 2021 from 2009.
In 4th grade reading, scores increased 8 points between 2000 and 2009; yet, they declined 1 between 2009 and 2021. 8th grade reading continues to be flat throughout the entire period.
Most worrisome, however, continues to be the trend in recent years of drops in performance among low performing students. All this, as we saw excellent gains together from 2000 to 2009. The only real group to experience a lot more than marginal gains in recent years continues to be students in the top 10th percentile. The surmise has to be that the gap narrowing we saw within the 2000s might have converted into gap widening in the 2010s.
Finally, while we saw good drops in \”below basic\” and increases in \”proficient\” from 2000 to 2009, there was without any improvement either in category from 2009 to 2021.
As I said in my preview, this picture is definitely surprising. We've done nothing this decade that should have moved the dial. There exists a national policy called Every Student Succeeds, yet there's really nothing in that policy that demands or even incentivizes changes in things as they are that would likely yield success.
We don't require or promote practice proven to increase achievement. We don't generally tie increased funding as to the works. We've not altogether abandoned the elements of accountability, but neither have we kept it strong or made it work better. We still encourage some constructive choice but not enough, or effectively, to generate much of gains.
Bottom line: everyone states worry about education. But, if NAEP, the nation's yardstick, will be believed, and i believe it should be, we do not care enough about this to possess made any gains in 10 years.
Shame on us; yet the amount of a story will our national failure be? After the newspapers covering this story become kitty litter, will anything change?
When President George W. Bush and Senator Edward Kennedy sat together and pledged to shake some misconception, you kind of had the feeling something would change, but for the better. Who's having such conversations today?
An Agincourt-level disaster
Shakespeare's Henry V includes a scene where the young King of England reads off a list of casualties his army inflicted upon in france they following the Battle of Agincourt, together with a large list of French nobles. \”Here was a royal fellowship of death-\” Henry notes grimly. This scene comes to mind when reviewing the 2021 NAEP, and states are generally not alas playing the function of Henry.
More with that in a bit. I made three predictions prior to the release of the 2021 NAEP: that nationally scores would still stagnate, that the impact of the 2021 educator strikes would appear in the data, and that a statewide black student cohort would exceed a statewide average score for white students on a single test/year. It appears as though my caffeine-fueled oracle got two thirds: nationally scores continued to stagnate, and a black subgroup finally surpassed a white subgroup for the first time. Congratulations to black students in Massachusetts, who not just exceeded the statewide average score for that lowest scoring statewide average for white students on 8th-grade reading, but also moved right into a tie with Arizona for the highest average score for Black students on 8th-grade math.
The evidence on strikes initially appears inconclusive. Some jurisdictions like West Virginia and Los Angeles had very rough results. Other places without strikes also had rough results, plus some from the jurisdictions with strikes like Arizona and Oklahoma had mixed results.
Special education results, however, are an Agincourt-level disaster.
NAEP has been provided to all states since 2003. After 16 years this is exactly what each state has to show for it in terms of 8th grade math and reading gains. On these tests students make approximately 10 points price of progress on average each year between 4th and 8th grade. Actually the United States spends high but has older students who score have less international exams, so most states had enormous room for improvement in 2003, especially among kids of color:
|NAEP 8th Grade Math and Reading Gains (2021 minus 2003 scores)|
No state were able to notch a double-digit gain in both math and reading during these sixteen years. Lots of states saw declines in scores. Once again unto the breach dear friends-
Focus on the lowest-performing students
Now that the NAEP scores are out, we are able to turn our attention in the prediction to interpretation, a location of great importance and surer footing for me. While headlines are emphasizing the possible lack of progress in average scores – ‘No Progress’ Seen in Reading or Math on Nation’s Report Card,\” EdWeek or, \”A 'Disturbing' Assessment: Sagging Reading Scores, Designed for Eighth Graders, Headline 2021's Disappointing NAEP Results,\” The74 – the storyline in my experience may be the continued fall in achievement in our lowest-performing students.
Our high scorers haven't seen meaningful dips. In fact, their scores have increased across the board during the last decade. In '09, the greatest 10 % of scholars scored an average of 264 and 305 in 4th and 8th grade reading, respectively. In 2021 those numbers were up to 267 and 310. While in 2021 these numbers dipped slightly to 266 and 309, they still show a rise relative the 2009 scores. Similarly, in math in '09, the greatest ten percent of scholars scored an average of 275 and 329 in 4th and 8th grade reading, respectively. In 2021 those numbers were again as much as 279 and 333. In 2021 these numbers were 280 and 333, still showing an increase relative this year's scores.
However, for the lowest ten percent of scholars, scores have dropped overall. The scores were 175 and 219 in 4th and 8th grade reading in 2009; by 2021 they'd dropped to 171 and 219; and, in the last 2 yrs, they dropped further to 168 and 213. In math, the trends are similar: the scores were 202 and 236 in 4th and 8th grade math in '09; dropping to198 and 233 in 2021 and dropping even lower at 199 and 231 in 2021.
The falling performance of the lowest scoring students isn't inevitable. In the early 2000s, we had greater gains for this group in accordance with the highest-performing students, whose scores also rose but at not as high an interest rate. These gains were evident in both 4th and 8th grade and in both math and reading. What exactly did we do at the start of the Twenty-first century that we are no longer doing? We're not focusing as much attention on the students who're struggling probably the most, and we're not focusing as much attention around the schools serving probably the most struggling students. The No Child Left Behind Act set unreasonable expectations for schools – that all students should reach proficiency as based on hawaii. As a result, it is no surprise the waivers to NCLB and also the subsequent Every Student Succeeds Act pulled backed on those requirements. Yet, it's also no surprise the cost of these changes is felt by the lowest-performing students. For these students to maintain their prior gains and to see increased achievement later on years, we'll need to bring the focus back to them. We are able to achieve this with better standards and with a broader view of the entire set of capabilities students need to be successful in everyday life and also to contribute their broader community. However, without it focus, these students, in particular, are likely to suffer over the range of outcomes we love them about.
Time for a return to accountability
In the first decade from the Twenty-first century, white, black and Hispanic student performance was increasing, however in the second debate those gains have ground to a halt, with even hints of decline in reading.
The shift corresponds almost exactly with the abandonment of effective enforcement from the accountability system put into place by No Child Left out.
Clearly, now is the time to put accountability policy back on the nation's educational agenda.
Bright spots amidst the gloom
Alas, it wasn't difficult to predict this year's results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress would be bleak. Using the lingering effects of the truly amazing Recession still becoming powerful headwinds against progress, it would took a miracle to determine big gains in the national level. Truthfully, I expected worse news for 4th graders, given how poorly they did upon admission to kindergarten; the truth is, though, it turned out to be 8th grade where the news was most dismaying.
But demography need not be destiny, and economic correlations have their limits: Several jurisdictions bucked the overall trends and showed improvement. Washington, D.C., deserves much of the interest, given its ability to demonstrate sustained and significant progress over time, and its decade-plus resolve for fundamental reform. Yet even D.C. has a demographic asterisk, given the rapidly changing population of the nation's capital. It's also true that, in many ways, the Great Recession skipped D.C.; let me encourage analysts in future to determine how much credit is going towards the schools and how much is associated with economic and social conditions.
There's you don't need to caveat the other star of the year's release, Mississippi. For a decade now, the long-suffering Magnolia State continues to be with an upward trajectory, particularly in reading. That appears to be no coincidence. It's one of the best early-literacy initiatives in the country, and has been quietly and methodically implementing the Common Core standards with little commotion. You have to neighboring Louisiana, which has been an innovator in curriculum-based reform. Permit this to be a note to state superintendents elsewhere: If Mississippi and Louisiana can overcome the \”local control\” arguments and develop deep and meaningful efforts to assist districts with teaching, learning, and curriculum implementation, you can as well.
Two more items of good news are worth highlighting. First, large urban districts still narrow the gap in achievement with the rest of the respective states. Perhaps that is because their own demographics have become more similar to outlying areas, as poor families go to the suburbs and more middle-class families head back into the city. But it's also consistent with what we should found in Fordham's recent study of charter school market share: As the charter sector has grown, it has brought a rising tide seems to have lifted all boats.
Finally, we ought to keep an eye on the gains we're seeing towards the top of the performance spectrum. Perhaps that, too, is being driven by socioeconomics and is associated with rising income inequality. But I have another hypothesis: The shift to higher academic standards, tougher tests, and accountability systems that encourage watching everybody's progress might be working, a minimum of for our higher-achieving students. Perhaps much more of them are gaining access to instruction that's actually and appropriately challenging. If so, that's worth celebrating-but this means we have to double down on our efforts to identify ways to help their lower-achieving peers take advantage of the higher expectations, too.
It's the troubling truth that America's academic progress in general remains extremely disappointing. It doesn't have to be this way often happens, however, as illustrated by the number of states and districts that are making notable gains. Let's follow their lead.
Results make case against ''more of the same\”
It turns out that whenever you are making a provocative prediction for the purposes of not being boring, you're often wrong! That was thankfully the case here. There doesn't seem to have been widening of achievement gaps between Hispanic and other students. Actually, Hispanic students were the only real racial/ethnic group to create a statistically significant gain (about a point) in 4th grade math, and they also made relative gains in 4th grade reading (where black and white students declined but Hispanic student stayed exactly the same). In 8th grade reading Hispanic students did tick down a place a lot more than white students did, however. So while racism remains one of the defining characteristics of the presidency, it at least appears this has not dramatically negatively affected the achievement of Hispanic youth.
The broader question of what to take from these results is a tough one. I don't think there's in whatever way to check out the results and think the last decade is a good one for student achievement in U.S. schools. I just read this stagnation as an indication that the broad reform agenda we've pursued over this time-the new generation of \”college and career ready\” standards coupled with weak accountability, the rise and fall of teacher evaluation that never really resulted in many teachers being removed, the continued growth of choice policies of all types-are unlikely to take us where you want to be. Even though some from the downturn in performance is undoubtedly due to effects of the 2008 recession, there just is not much reason to be optimistic that doing more of the same will really make a difference.
So exactly what do I believe would make a positive change? I'd propose an agenda that involved a) large spending increases (both across-the-board and targeted) to draw and keep stronger teachers in the classroom, b) equity-oriented redistribution of funds to varsities serving the most disadvantaged students, c) dramatic strengthening from the state's role in supporting standards implementation through curriculum, and d) a return to a more aggressive accountability (though this time around according to multiple measures and emphasizing student growth) that intervened sharply in underperforming schools. Of course, there is no constituency of these kinds of reforms right now-at least not the full package of them-so my guess is yet another half decade of the same is where we're headed.