September 25, 2007

NAEP scores out

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (2007) scores are out, and here's a quick response on reading for the country and Florida:

1) The U.S. Department of Education report focuses on feel-good comparisons with 2005, when looking back further gives a different picture. Yes, in fourth grade reading for the country's children, the average scale score has gone up 2 points in the past year, but the improvement was better in the four years before 2002 (4 points 1998-2002, vs. 2 points 2002-2007). And in eighth grade, the report claims improvement since 2005, but there's been a slight average scale score decline since 2002. In general, fourth-grade reading has been on a gentle upward slope for the past decade while eighth-grade reading is stagnant. In addition, in most areas there has been no closing of the achievement gap since 1992. (The only achievement gap to show a decline either since 1992 or 2005 was the White-Black comparison in fourth-grade reading.) The take-home story today is that the nation's reading achievement provides no clear evidence that No Child Left Behind has dramatically changed elementary and middle-school reading proficiency.

2) Florida's reading achievement is mixed. There appears to be a long-term improvement in reading in fourth grade but stagnant reading scores in eighth grade since 2002. (There was a decline between 2002 and 2005 and then an increase, so the average scale score in 2007 was 1 point below 2002.) There was a slight increase in the proportion of students excluded from testing, but it's hard to know how that might have affected scale scores. Today's report also gives no trend data by population subgroup, so we can tell nothing about changes in achievement gaps in Florida from today's report.

3) If you look at Florida scores by achievement levels, the conclusions you draw depend on which grade and level you pick. Fourth grade: In both the second (proficient) and third (basic) levels, there is a long-term increase in the proportion of students achieving that level, but the second level's upward trend started in 1998, while the third level's upward trend started in 1994.   Eighth grade: There's been stagnation since 2002 no matter which level you examine, after a four-year uptick.

I'd like to get inside the data more, but the NAEP Data Explorer server is now very busy.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on September 25, 2007 10:21 AM |