2011 NAEP Results Released…We Have a Long Way to Go

November 2nd, 2011

Category: News

On November 1, the National Center on Education Statistics released the 2011 NAEP results, the national benchmark exam given to a representative sample of 4th and 8th graders across the country (including Delaware). Education stakeholders across the country nervously anticipated the results, worried about how a decrease in education funding and the recent downturn in the economy would affect student achievement. The findings were…ambivalent.

There has been plenty of coverage about the results nationally (especially in the education blogosphere) and the News Journal summarized the results, so let me just recap briefly by saying that as a nation we have remained largely stagnant and the same holds true for Delaware; while we’ve improved considerably since 1990, we haven’t seen any significant improvements in math since 2005 or in reading since 2002. As Secretary Lowery put it: “These results reinforce what we knew: The status quo wasn’t working.”

Looking at our outcomes compared to the targets we set for 2015 in our Race to the Top application, we have a long way to go, especially if we are to move from the middle of the pack of states.

Note that this administration of NAEP occurred before most of the Race to the Top initiatives rolled out this year; many of the effects of current reforms aren’t expected to have an impact for several years. However, such large gaps between our current state and our four year targets raise the question: will RttT be enough to move the system or is even more sweeping systemic reform needed?

There is one bright spot in all of this, however. That drop in achievement caused by the economic downturn everyone was worried about? It didn’t happen—in Delaware, despite having an increase in low income students by 5-7%, scores stayed at least steady and increased 3 percentage points in 4th grade math and 8th grade reading, a modest gain to be sure, but better than the feared outcome.

So where will we be the next few times we take the NAEP? My hypothesis is that we’ll have improved a bit more, but still not enough—two out of three students not reading or doing math at a proficient level is a long way to go from where we want to be, and if there was a silver bullet solution we’d have found one by now. Reform takes time, and it’s going to take a lot more, innovation, collaboration, and most importantly, effort before we’ll get there.

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Brian Yin




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