U.S. Education Assessment Shows Modest but Steady Gains in Math Scores
New data from a national math test show that U.S. fourth- and eighth-graders have made slight gains since 2009, but only 35 to 40 percent of the students tested showed proficiency in math.
The federally run National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” periodically tests students on several subjects to gauge their progress over time. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the results of the 2011 assessments in mathematics and reading on November 1.
The new math results continue two trends: a history of overall improvement since 1990, and a series of small but continual gains since 2003, when biennial testing began. Both the fourth- and eighth-grade groups increased their average scores on the 500-point test by a single point between 2009 and 2011, and both groups are now testing six points higher than they were in 2003. “In grades four and eight, in mathematics we actually see the highest scores to date,” NCES commissioner Jack Buckley said in an October 31 conference call with reporters.
The math test is designed to gauge the status of the entire U.S. student population by taking a representative sample of pupils at public, private and religious schools. Some 209,000 fourth-graders from 8,500 schools and 175,200 eighth-graders from 7,610 schools participated in the 2011 test.