How do Arkansas students perform relative to the nation?
Are Arkansas students performing at higher levels over time?
If you are interested in the answers to these questions, you will be interested in today’s release of “The Nation’s Report Card” — results of the 2015 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).
The NAEP is a nationally administered assessment given to students in all 50 states and Washington D.C by the National Center for Educational Statistics. The NAEP is administered to a nationally representative sample of students — as schools are randomly selected to administer the assessment. There are various versions of the NAEP — in fact, you can check out many sets of national data here at The Nation’s Report Card website.
NAEP provides an apples-to-apples comparison of students across the United States. Unlike state exams which differ between states and can change from year to year, the NAEP assessments are administered uniformly, with the same sets of test booklets across the nation since the early 1990s. NAEP results are probably the best measure we have of how Arkansas students are performing relative to the nation. (Read more about why we–and others–believe the NAEP exam to be the best apples-to-apples comparison in our previous blog post).
How are we doing?
Since first administered, Arkansas’ NAEP scores in reading and mathematics have grown at a rate similar to the national trend. The new scores show that Arkansas’ fourth grade students score similarly to the national average in reading, although eighth grade students are still below average performance. In mathematics, Arkansas students still score well below national performance.
Nationally, average mathematics scores for both fourth- and eighth- grade students are lower than in 2013. Although Arkansas’ fourth grade math scores followed the national trend, eighth grade scores were not significantly different from the 2013 results.
Figures 1 and 2 below highlight Arkansas’ Achievement Level Percentages and Average Score results for fourth and eighth grade mathematics.
Figure 1: Grade 4 Mathematics
Figure 2: Grade 8 Mathematics
Nationally, average reading scores for fourth grade students were not significantly different compared to 2013, but average reading scores for eighth-grade students were lower than 2013 scores. Arkansas’ reading scores for both fourth and eighth grade students, however, were not significantly different from the 2013 results.
Figures 3 and 4 below highlight Arkansas’ Achievement Level Percentages and Average Score results for fourth and eighth grade reading.
Figure 3: Grade 4 Reading
Figure 4: Grade 8 Reading
Want to know more?
The Nation’s Report Card has an excellent interactive website so that you can examine performance nationally and state-by-state. Additionally, you can examine performance of subgroups of students and compare achievement gaps over time. Check out Arkansas’ overall performance here, and Arkansas’ subgroup performance here.
You can check out the Arkansas score reports for yourself by downloading the PDFs below:
In recent years, we have released policy briefs examining NAEP scores over time, and we have presented NAEP data to educators, policymakers, and the public across Arkansas. We at the OEP are excited to continue to examine this data, including taking a closer look at subgroup performance and achievement gaps, and we will continue to provide updates as we learn more.