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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Nation’s report card shows ‘lost decade’

Reading and math proficiency isn’t improving for fourth- and eighth-graders, according to the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), known as the “nation’s report card.” The best students did better and the worst students did worse, widening achievement gaps. Except for a slight uptick in eighth-grade reading since 2015, scores remained about the same.

It’s been a “lost decade” for educational progress, writes Mike Petrilli.

Hechinger’s Jill Barshay calls it a decade of stagnation.

Table 1: Statistically significant changes in national results from 2013–17

NAEP reading and math scores improved steadily until the late 2000s, then “flatlined,” writes Barshay.  “In reading, 37 percent of fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders were proficient. In math, 40 percent of fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders hit this threshold.”

Florida was the bright spot, led by gains in Miami and Jacksonville. Scores rose for almost all students, including Hispanics and blacks, low-income students, students with disabilities and those still learning English.

Whites in Florida did as well as whites in top-performing Massachusetts, which has a more educated population, writes Barshay.

More impressively, Florida had smaller gaps between students of color and whites. Florida’s Hispanic fourth-graders outscored Massachusetts’: 242 vs. 234 in math. . . . In reading too, Florida’s Hispanic population outscored Massachusetts’.

Adjusting for student demographics, Florida looks even better, reports the Urban Institute. Texas also moves up to the Massachusetts’ level.

Petrilli looks at urban districts that participated in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in 2013 and 2017. Chicago and Cleveland have made progress. Washington, D.C. didn’t improve in the last two years, but is doing better than in 2013. San Diego looks better too.

Table 4: Statistically significant changes for each participating TUDA district from 2013–17

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