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Matthew Ladner, Executive Editor of ReimaginED kindly prepared the graph below for NJ Ed Report readers based on national test scores released last week called the National Assessment for Educational Progress or NAEP. Here you see the reading proficiency of New Jersey Black 4th grade students who averaged a 203 on the NAEP reading test, three points higher than 19 years ago in 2003. NAEP considers this difference statistically insignificant.
For context, scoring a 238 in 4th grade reading is what NAEP calls “proficient”: “NAEP Proficient represents the goal for what all students should know.” Scoring a 208 is “basic” (which some think is closer to grade-level.) A score of 203, the average for 4th NJ students who are Black, is “below basic.” This means these students are much more likely to have poor oral reading fluency and word reading skills.
The average score in reading across the state was 223–not “proficient” by NAEP standards but above “basic”— yet there are wide variances. The average for white 4th graders was 231 (almost proficient!), a 28-point Black-white proficiency gap which NAEP says isn’t any better than our gap in 2003. (“In 2022, Black students had an average score that was 28 points lower than that for White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2003.”) In fact, we haven’t made progress in closing these gaps for low-income students and Hispanic students too. Also, if you’ve been following the debate over the falling achievement of boys throughout America (Richard Reeves), NJ boys underperform by 12 points compared to NJ girls, although they score higher in 4th grade math.
NJ moves up three points and more spots in the rankings. Similar to PA. pic.twitter.com/6TPftKyOix
— Matthew Ladner (@matthewladner) November 2, 2022
Speaking of math:
In 2022, Black students had an average score that was 33 points lower than that for White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2003 (31 points).
The gap widens by 8th grade: Black 8th graders have “an average score that was 42 points lower than that for White students. This performance gap was not significantly better than 2003. Same for reading, where there is a gap of 30 points between Black students and white students.
Sure, we’ve moved up a few notches compared to other states. Yet is that good enough? Not if you are a NJ parent of a Black student.
And it doesn’t have to be this way. Look at Mississippi, which has a far greater percentage of low-income students than New Jersey yet lost little ground during the pandemic. With its Education Department’s mandates that all teachers be fluent in the science of reading, scores increased. In fact Mississippi Black 4th graders outperform NJ Black 4th graders (just a point, but still…).
— Grant Callen (@grantcallen) November 2, 2022
For more NJ Ed Report coverage of NAEP scores, see these articles: