The National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores are in and our state has some homework to do.
The NAEP, first administered in the early 1990s, is given every two years to students in grades fourth and eighth in both reading and math. It is the only national exam and it allows policymakers to compare students in one region of the country with another.
Louisiana public school fourth-graders, based on the 2017 test, plunged to or near the bottom of the nation in reading and math while eighth-graders finished 50th in math and 48th in reading.
In 2015, Louisiana’s fourth-graders finished 43rd in reading and 45th in math.
Eighth-graders tested in 2017 showed fewer changes than the fourth-graders. In math, scores dropped two points while eighth-grade reading results showed a 1-point increase.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the nation as whole has made little gains in math or reading since 2015.
Ten states saw declines in fourth-grade math and three saw declines in eighth-grade math.
While the average reading scores for eighth-graders increased nationwide compared with 2015, there were no changes for reading at the fourth-grade level or for math at either grade. The results, however, were undercut by the fact that the test was administered digitally for the first time via a tablet device, Louisiana Superintendent John White pointed out.
Even when the technology is working perfectly, it can be an adjustment for students to navigate a computer screen, perform drag-and-drop activities, do scratch work in math or underline words in a reading passage.
White told the Baton Rouge Advocate that among students who took the test with pencil and paper, scores were better in several areas compared to students who took the tests digitally.
The “release of The Nation’s Report Card confirms that there is still much work to be done to close achievement gaps and ensure that our young people are ready for success in college, careers and life,” said Carissa Moffat Miller, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the organization that represents every state’s top education official.
The NAEP results further demonstrate this call to action.