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State's reading scores show no improvement on national exam

Results are out this morning for the nation’s reading test, and the numbers show New York State students’ scores have plateaued in the last eight years.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as NAEP, or the nation’s report card, shows that not only have state scores not changed since the test was last administered in 2008, the state hasn’t seen significant growth since the late 1990s.

This year, the average score of a New York State fourth grade student was 224 points and in 2002, that number was 222 points. The picture is similar for eighth grade students: this year their average score was 264, just as it was eight years ago.

The flatlining stands in contrast to the state’s own annual reading exams, which show fourth and eighth grade students making slight gains over the last two years. According to the state’s tests, fourth grade students’ scores increased five scale score points between 2007 and 2009 and eighth graders’ scores grew six points. The difference between the state’s results and NAEP scores is a constant that has gotten more attention in recent years and has forced state officials to call for more difficult tests.

Education Commissioner David Steiner said the state’s scores were troubling and reiterated his call for the state to improve its own tests.

“This year the State 3-8 grade assessments will already incorporate improvements to make them less predictable as well as an audit function to further ensure quality control,” he said in a statement.

Results for New York City won’t be out for some time. A statement from the State Education Department is posted below.

Statement from Commissioner Steiner on New York’s NAEP Reading Scores

The NAEP scores in Reading released today show New York’s performance remains essentially flat, with no significant gains between 2007 and 2009. The Board of Regents and I are concerned by these results. We remain troubled by our overall results, and we especially note the gaps that separate the achievement of too many of our African-American students, Hispanic students, low-income students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities from the results from other students.

In 2009, New York’s average scale score in 4th grade Reading was 224, unchanged from 2007, while the nation remained unchanged at 220. We do note a two point increase in the percentage of students at or above Basic in New York. The State’s average scale score in 8th grade Reading was 264, unchanged from 2007, while the nation improved slightly from 261 to 262. The percentage of New York students scoring Proficient or above in both 4th and 8th grade remained unchanged at 36 and 33 percent, respectively. We note the contrast between New York’s NAEP results and the results on the New York State ELA exams: while the NAEP scores remained flat, performance on our state tests show gains during that same two-year period.

Chancellor Tisch and I have said publicly that New York’s learning standards must be raised. The Regents are committed to their reform agenda, which will raise the quality of our standards, assessments, and curriculum, and strengthen teacher and principal preparation. This year the State 3-8 grade assessments will already incorporate improvements to make them less predictable as well as an audit function to further ensure quality control.

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