Progress? Latest education assessment scores

September 26, 2007

Scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released officially yesterday.

Education Week said:

Fourth grade math scores on NAEP, called “the nation’s report card,” rose from 238 to 240 from 2005 to 2007, while 8th grade performance climbed from 279 to 281, both on a 500-point scale. The 2007 NAEP results were released today.

Those gains continued an overall upward trend in NAEP math scores in both grades that dates to the early 1990s, while reading scores have been more stagnant over that time. While the gains in math were smaller than in some previous testing cycles, they were still statistically significant, as were the increases in reading.

“It shows that the public attention to math instruction and professional development of teachers is having a positive impact,” said James Rubillo, the executive director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, in Reston, Va. The movement for stronger standards that dates to the 1980s “has brought math and reading to the forefront of attention,” he said.

In reading, the subject that has seen the greatest investment of federal and state education spending over the past several years, 4th graders’ scores have risen from 219 to 221, also on a 500-point scale, since 2005. Eighth graders’ average mark increased from 262 to 263, which was a statistically significant gain, though that test score dipped slightly from the NAEP reading test given five years ago.

Two point gains on a 500 point scale sound measly to me. That’s less than 1%, after five years of a program that should have produced much more significant gains.

Is the No Child Left Behind Act badly misnamed?

Perhaps, instead of spending money on testing and forcing teachers to teach to the test or else, we should try putting some money into getting the best teachers, by providing significant pay raises, and put more money into providing the resources teachers need to make their classrooms successful — books, projectors, software, film, video, grading machines, classroom tools, classroom supplies (paper and pencils), preparation time, and parental involvement.

Other resources:

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