The latest NAEP scores are the usual mixed bag for Georgia: The 2009 reading scores in fourth and eighth grades are relatively flat , but both grades gained five points in the percentage of students moving into at least the basic proficiency level between 2005 and last year.
Sixty-three percent of Georgia’s fourth-graders scored at basic proficiency or better, compared with 66 percent of students nationally.
Among the state’s eighth-graders, 72 percent scored at basic proficiency or better, compared with 74 percent nationally.
In explaining the nation’s sluggish scores, experts point to the fact that today’s students are spending an increasing amount of their lives in front of screens, playing video games, texting friends or surfing the Internet.
The New York Times spotlighted an interesting aspect of the new reading scores:
The new scores indicate that one group of students has made significant gains in reading over the last decade: the nation’s worst readers. The average scores of fourth-graders in the bottom 10 percent for reading increased by 16 points from 2000 to 2009. In contrast, the average scores of the nation’s best fourth-grade readers, those in the top 10 percent, rose by only 2 points during the same period.
“All the progress in reading is being made at the bottom,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution “Our worst readers are getting better, but our best readers are staying about the same.”
While Georgia still trails the nation, the state contends that we’ve been improving at a faster clip. However, fourth grade scores slipped a bit in 2009, which seems troubling given the intense focus on reading in Georgia schools.
Georgia is garnering national attention for some scores. In its release today, Education Trust cited Georgia for narrowing the Latino-white gap by seven percentage points.
The Georgia Department of Education sent out its own release, noting:
A higher percentage of Georgia’s 8th graders are scoring at or above basic and proficient levels in reading than ever before, according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress released today. Seventy-two (72) percent of 8th graders scored at the basic or above level, compared to 70% in 2007. The national average shows 74% of 8th graders at the basic or above level, but had only a one percent increase from 2007, compared to Georgia’s two percent increase.
released today. Seventy-two (72) percent of 8th graders scored at the basic or above level, compared to 70% in 2007. The national average shows 74% of 8th graders at the basic or above level, but had only a one percent increase from 2007, compared to Georgia’s two percent increase.
“Since day one, my vision has been for Georgia to lead the nation in improving student achievement,” said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. “For us to accomplish this we have to improve at a faster rate than the nation, and our 8th graders are doing that.”
Georgia’s 4th graders saw a slight decrease since 2007 in the percentage of students at basic levels and above, but the percentage of students at or above proficient increased one percentage point while the nation had no increase.
Georgia students in grades 4 and 8 took the NAEP exams in reading last school year. The students who were tested had been taught using the state’s new Reading/English Language Arts curriculum for four years. The NAEP is given to a representative sample of students in every state. Scores are broken into four categories — below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.