National Standized Tests

NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TESTS 

National Achievement Tests PDF

Keyworth, R., (2020). Overview of National Achievement Tests. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute. https://www.winginstitute.org/student-national-standarized-tests.

Table of Contents

An effective education system requires ongoing, meaningful and accurate feedback data for evaluating education performance at a macro level (system performance at different units of scale, i.e., school, district, state, and nation) to provide a foundation for informing policies, system interventions, and reform measures, as well sheds light on our performance in the areas of participation, quality, equity, and efficiency.

Benchmarking is a key element of measuring education performance.  It involves identifying the best critical performance indicators, and comparing the results to standards and across various aspects of an education system.   Without such indicators, it is impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of our education system or make sound decisions about school reform initiatives.

Standardized Tests are among the best tools for providing overall student performance data for large groups of students across demographics, schools, and states.

The National Education Assessment Progress (NAEP) has often been called the gold standard for standardized academic testing because of its constant rigorous scrutiny.  It tests 4th, 8th and 12th grade students in reading and math every two years, and a wide range of other subjects less frequently. NAEP reports student performance by three achievement levels, or benchmarks: “Advanced” represents superior performance, “proficient” represents solid academic performance, and “basic” denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade. NAEP also reports data on students who are “below basic.”

PERFORMANCE RESULTS:  Reading, Math, Science and Civics for ALL STUDENTS

An unacceptably low percentage of students are at or above proficient in core subject areas.  As of 2019, only 37% of 12th grade students are proficient in reading, 25% in math, 22% in science, and 24% in civics.  Scores for the other two tested grades (4th and 8th) are comparably low.

 

Figure 1.    NAEP: Percent of students at or above proficiency in reading, math, science, civics  (NAEP, 2019)                

PERFORMANCE RESULTS:  Reading and Math LONG TERM TRENDS

Despite numerous nation-wide school reform efforts, reading and math scores have remained virtually the same over the last 48 years (reading) and 41 years (math) respectively.

Figure 2.  NAEP: Reading:  Long Term Scale Scores (ages 9, 13, 17) from 1971—2012

 

Figure 3. NAEP: Math Long Term Scale Scores (ages 9, 13, 17) from 1978—2012 

PERFORMANCE RESULTS: Reading and Math by LOCALITY (States and Cities)

State NAEP scores vary widely.  The following table averages the proficiency data across fourth and eighth grade reading and math scores.  It lists the ten states with the highest performance, and ten with the poorest performance.

 

Table 1. NAEP: Reading and Math Proficiency Levels by Top/Bottom Ten States  (2019)       

Massachusetts had the highest aggregate score with 46.9 % of its 4th and 8th grade students being proficient in reading and math.  The remaining top tier states averaged from 39.7 to 44.3 percent.  Even the scores of the top ten states are unacceptable as they portray systems where half or more of the students are not at proficiency levels in reading and math.  The ten poorest performing states had proficiency scores in the 20% range, with New Mexico having the lowest percentage of 24.1%. 


Table 2. NAEP: Reading and Math Proficiency Levels by Top/Bottom Five Cities (TUDA)

City NAEP scores also vary widely.  Overall the scores of major cities were lower than the national average (28.3 proficiency versus 35.8%).  But at the individual city level, some of the scores are staggeringly bad. Philadelphia, Shelby County, Fresno, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Cleveland all have proficiency levels under twenty percent.  Only 5.2% of the 4th and 8th grade students in Detroit are at or above proficiency in reading and math. 

PERFORMANCE RESULTS: Reading Proficiency by Student ETHNICITY

Figure 4.  NAEP:  READING Proficiency by Ethnicity (2019, 2015)

  • PERFORMANCE:  By 12th grade, less than half (46%) of all white students can read at a proficiency level.  Proficiency percentages drop significantly for Hispanic students (25%) and Black students (17%).
  • TRENDS:  These 12th grade proficiency levels have not changed in almost 30 years.  In 1992 the results showed White students 47% proficient, Hispanic students 23%, and Black students 18%

PERFORMANCE RESULTS:  Student Reading PROFICIENCY GAPS by Ethnicity

Table 3.  White—Hispanic / White—Black Student Reading Proficiency Gap

  • GAPS:  The most recent performance gap between White and Hispanic 12th grade students is 21%; for White students and Black students it is 29%.
  • TRENDS:  These gaps have also remained virtually identical to those in 1992.  The gap at that time between White and Hispanic students was 24%, and 29% for Black students.

PERFORMANCE RESULTS:  Math Proficiency by Student ETHNICITY

Figure 5.  NAEP:  MATH Proficiency by Ethnicity (2019, 2015)

  • PERFORMANCE:  By twelfth grade, less than one third (32%) of all white students are at or above  proficiency level in math.  Proficiency percentages drop significantly for Hispanic students (12%) and Black students (7%).
  • TRENDS:  These proficiency levels have not changed significantly since the test was overhauled fifteen years ago.  In 2005 the results showed White students 29% proficient, Hispanic students 8%, and Black students 5%

PERFORMANCE RESULTS:  Student Math PROFICIENCY GAPS by Ethnicity

Table 4. White—Hispanic / White—Black Student Math Proficiency Gap

  • GAPS:  The most recent performance gap between 12th grade White students and Hispanic students is 21%; for White students and Black students it is 29%.
  • TRENDS:  These gapss have also remained virtually identical to those in 1992.  The Gap between White students and Hispanic students was 24%, and 29% for Black students.

 

 

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