February 21, 2013
New York State students’ scores on a test known as “the nation’s report card” have not risen as quickly as scores in other large states, according to a new report.
The report compares student performance in five states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a biennial assessment administered by the National Center for Education Statistics. The reading, math, and science tests are considered the only reliable yardstick for measuring educational progress across states.
In 2011 — the last time that fourth- and eighth-graders took the tests — New York was one of only two states to post significant score declines since the previous test administration. (New York City’s scores were flat.)
The new report shows that New York has also posted smaller gains over time than most “mega-states.” The states are California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas, and with New York, they enroll 40 percent of the country’s students.
In reading and in fourth-grade math, Florida’s students improved most between 1990 and 2011. Texas led the pack in eighth-grade math, with a 32-point increase over that time period. In New York, eighth-graders’ math scores rose by 20 points — but that meant that the state actually lost ground compared to the rest of the nation. The state’s students beat the national average only in fourth-grade reading.
State Education Commissioner John King called the results “disappointing but not surprising.” In a statement, he said the state’s new learning standards, known as the Common Core, would improve students’ NAEP performance. The state is set to administer tests aligned to the new standards this spring, and education officials are warning that scores are likely to fall.
“The scores on this NAEP report underscore a tough but necessary truth: Our students are not where they should be,” King said. “The reforms we’re implementing will help get them there.”
New York did compare favorably to the other “mega-states” in some ways. The state had the highest percentage of low-income students who tested proficient on the eighth-grade reading test — 24 percent, which was statistically higher than the proficiency rate for similar students students nationwide. Students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch hit the proficiency bar 47 percent of the time.
But the state lagged on at least one surprising statistic. In fourth-grade math, low-income students scored at the same level as similar students across the country. But students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch posted far lower scores than similar students in other states, and nationally. Fewer than half of those students hit NAEP’s proficiency bar, compared to 57 percent nationally.