# Webinar of The Nation’s Report Card: 2011 Math and Reading, Grades 4 and 8

Good morning and welcome to today’s briefing to release the results of The Nation’s Report Card Mathematics and Reading grades four and eight. I’m Cornelia Orr, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board. The Governing Board is an independent bipartisan board that sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called NAEP. The assessments results are reported to the country as The Nation’s Report Card. The Governing Board is pleased to host today’s event. As most of you know, NAEP is the largest ongoing nationally-representative assessment of student performance in the United States, so today’s results are both of importance and interest. In addition, these reading and math results are recorded for states every two years. I am going to run through the agenda first of all before we begin the data presentation. And after I finish the agenda, Tammy, our webinar producer, will address some of the logistics and mechanics for using the WebEx today. So the first presenter today is Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Educational Statistics. He will present the 2011 results. Then Governing Board member, Doris Hicks, will offer her perspective on the results. Doris is the principal and CEO of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School for Science and Technology in New Orleans. Next, David Driscoll, the chair of the Governing Board and former commissioner of education for Massachusetts, will offer his remarks about the results. And, finally, we’re pleased to welcome Keith Rheault, superintendent of public instruction for Nevada schools who will share his thoughts on Nevada education and the value of the NAEP report card. We’ll conclude this session with a time for questions from our webinar participants. Now, Tammy, please share with us what attendees need to know about logistics about the webinar. Thank you, Cornelia. I’d like to remind viewers with questions that you should submit them to all panelists by submitting them in the Q&A panel located in the lower right corner of your screen. Please sure to include your name and organization with all questions, and the panelists will answer as many as possible in the allotted time at the end of the formal presentation. Please note that if you have technical issues, please refer to your confirmation e-mail for details, or call WebEx technical support at 1 (866) 229-3239. All right, and back to you, Cornelia. Thank you so much, Tammy. It’s my pleasure to introduce Jack Buckley. Jack is the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics on leave from his position as professor of applied statistics at New York University. Jack, I’ll turn it over to you. Thanks very much, Cornelia. Well good morning. I’m here today to release the results of the 2011 Reading and Mathematics assessments from the National Assessments of Educational Progress, or The Nation’s Report Card. We gave this assessment earlier this year to fourth and eighth grade students across the country, and today I will be presenting results for the nation and the states. We also assessed reading and mathematics in 21 large urban districts around the country, and we’ll release those results very soon. So the assessments were released in — or administered rather in early 2011. As you can see, we had large samples for the two assessments so a total of 400,000 fourth graders and well over 300,000 eighth graders. The numbers are a little bit larger for grade four than grade eight for several reasons. First of all, when NAEP samples most of the grade four students in the school, we give the school the option to include all of the students in the grade. But this is not an option for the eighth grade. Additionally, in 2011 we had a science assessment at grade eight, although not at grade four, so three assessments compared to two. And so here we’re only reporting on results for two of the assessments. We have results for the nation for both public and private school students, and at the state level, we have public school results only for all 50 states, along with the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense School System, which are treated as states for comparison purposes. As always, we report student performance in two ways, scale scores and achievement levels. The NAEP scale scores indicate what students know and can do and are recorded on a scale ranging from zero to 500 in the case of mathematics and reading. The achievement levels were developed by the National Assessment Governing Board. They set standards for what students should know and be able to do. For each subject in each grade, the Governing Board has established standards for basic, proficient, and advanced performance. Ultimately, the goal is to have all students performing at or above the proficient level. When we compare scores in other NAEP results, today I will only discuss differences that are statistically significant. And in the figures that follow on your screen, we’ll use an asterisk to denote when the difference between 2011 and another time point or between two different subgroups is statistically significant. For the most part, we will be comparing students’ performance in 2011 with scores the last assessment in 2009, and also with the earliest assessment, which date varies depending on which assessment and grade level. Before we turn to the results, this slide shows you just how much the demographics of grade-four students have changed since 1990, which was the first in the current series of NAEP mathematics assessment. White students constituted 75% of grade four students in 1990, but 21 years later, they constitute 54% of the whole. The percentage of black students has declined as well, but not nearly as much, while the percentages of Hispanic and Asian students have increased dramatically. In short, America’s student population looks very different today than they did 21 years ago. More recently, there has been another demographic or socioeconomic change, an increase in the percentage of grade-four students coming from lower-income families, as measured by their family eligibility for free or reduced-priced school lunches under the National School Lunch program. Since 2003, the percentage has grown from 40% to 49%. I don’t have the figures here for grade eight, but the changes are similar. So now let’s take a more in-depth look at the results for mathematics in 2011. Students were assessed in five mathematical content areas shown here, as established by the NAEP mathematics framework developed by the Governing Board. We have separate scores for each content area, but we combine them to create an overall score. Notice that the grade-four assessment included a greater proportion of questions in the number, properties, and measurement content areas; while at grade eight there was more emphasis on other areas, algebra in particular. This reflects a general pattern of instruction at the two grades. Here we showed the overall score for grade four for students and scores for students at five percentiles in each assessment from 1990 to the present. So the overall average score is shown in red. In 2011, the overall score of 241 was the highest to date, and scores have risen 28 points since 1990 and one point since 2009. When we look across the distribution at student performance by percentile, we can see improvement of scores over time for lower, middle, and higher-performing students. As the figures shows, scores have increased since 1990 for all students at the five percentiles. Since 2009, scores have increased for all students except for those at the lowest percentile, the tenth. Here we give complete information on student performance, as measured by the percentage of students meeting the three NAEP achievement levels, so each bar shows percentages of students at or above basic, at or above proficient, and at advanced for a given assessment year. Percentages at or above proficient and at advanced were higher in 2011 than in any previous assessment year. Percentages at or above basic were higher than in 1990 but not than in 2009. We also just desegregate average scores by race ethnicity. Here we show the average scores in 2011 for all seven racial ethnic groups, with Asian students scoring the highest on average, 257. This is the first NAEP assessment to use the revised list of categories for race ethnicity developed by the Office of Management and Budget. The consequences here is that we are able to desegregate the old category of Asian Pacific Islander to separate two categories, Asians and native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander students. We will, however, continue to use the old categorizations when we make comparisons back to assessments prior to 2011. In addition, I should add a new category two or more races now include students who, in the past, were described as unclassified. As you can see here, Asian students account for about 5% of the total fourth grade student population, while native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students constitute less than half a percent, as indicated by the hash mark, which shows that the percentage rounds to zero. Students of two or more races constitute about 2% of all fourth graders. This graph shows the scores for White and Black students over time, from 1990 to 2011, with the gaps between the scores for each assessment year indicated by the large bold-face numbers between the two trend lines. So in 2011, both White and Black students at grade four had the highest scores to date. The 25-point gap in 2011 was narrower than the 32-point achievement gap in 1990 but not significantly different from the 26-point gap in 2009. We can also look at the White/Hispanic achievement gap for grade four math; and here we see, again, that the score for Hispanic fourth graders was higher than at any past mathematics assessment year; however the 20-point gap in 2011 was not significantly different from the 20-point gap in 1990 or the 21-point gap in 2009. The full report has complete gap information for both grades and subjects, but in the slides to come, I’ll only show you the gaps where we see changes in performance. This map shows the states where students’ scores changed from 2009 to 2011. Fourth graders in the nine states shown in green had higher mathematics scores than in 2009; Rhode Island, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Hawaii. Average scores declined in the one state shown in red, New York. In the remaining 42 states, scores were not significantly different than in 2009. Here we have a sample fourth-grade question from the geometry content area. This question asked students to select the answer to that correctly identified a way in which a right triangle and a rectangle are alike. 49% chose A as the right answer. Each figure has at least one right angle. Under the choice A box, we see the percentage of students who chose A according to eligibility for school lunch. 41% of those who are eligible; that is, those who came from low-income families, chose the correct answer as compared to 58% of those who are not eligible. Now let’s turn to the results for grade eight mathematics. At grade eight, the overall score, again, shown by the red line of 284, is the highest to date. In one second we will turn to the results for grade eight mathematics, as soon as we correct our technical difficulties. Well, I can certainly describe for you the results for grade-eight mathematics. The short answer is that the scores in 2011 for grade eight were the highest to date, the score of 284. In fact, scores have risen 21 points since 1990 — here you go — and one point since 2009. So this is shown by the red line now visible on your screen. When we looked again at student performance by percentile, we see that scores have increased since 1990 across all five percentiles. But since 2009, scores have increased for students only at the 25th and 50th percentile, so in the middle of the distribution. This is reflective in the achievement level percentage changes over time. So percentages of students at or above proficient were higher in 2011 than in any other previous assessment year, rising from 15% in 1990 to 35% today; however, percentages at or above basic and at advanced, while they were higher than in 1990, are unchanged from 2009. We can look again at achievement gaps at the eighth grade. Here we show the White/Hispanic gap. In 2011, the score for Hispanic eighth graders was higher than in any past mathematics assessment; however, the 23-point gap in 2011 was not different statistically from the 24-point gap in 1990, though it was narrower than the 26-point gap in 2009. I won’t show the White/Black score gap here for the eighth grade mathematics, as there was no significant change. Here, though, we do show gender differences. This is the grade eight male/female gap. One-point gap in 2011 in favor of male students was statistically significant. Scores for male and female students were higher in 2011 than 1990 for both groups, but only female students showed an increase over 2009. Turning again to the states, in 2011, eight graders in the 13 states shown in green had higher mathematic scores than in 2009. In this case Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Hawaii, scores were also higher at grade four. Average scores declined in the one state shown in red, Missouri. In the remaining 38 states and jurisdiction scores were not significantly different than 2009. We asked eighth-grade students taking NAEP mathematics to name the mathematics course that they were currently enrolled in. In 2011, 34% of students reported taking an Algebra I course, while 23% said they took introduction to Algebra or Pre-Algebra, and 25% said they were enrolled in basic or general eighth-grade math. Those who took Algebra I had, on average, higher scores, 25-points higher, for example, than those who said they were taking basic or general eighth-grade math. We can also take a look at the percentages of students taking the three types of grade-eight math by race ethnicity. So in the left column of this table, for example, we see that 45% of Asian students said they were taking Algebra I, compared to 13% who said they were taking basic math, as shown in the far right column. In contrast, the percentages of Black students who said they were taking Algebra I compared to those who said they were taking basic Math were close to identical, and the same was true for Hispanic students. Turning to a sample grade-eight question, here is an example from the algebra content area. This question asked students to identify the equation that produces a line passing through the point (0, 5) with a negative slope. 31% realized that choice E would produce a line with a negative slope, cutting the Y access 5 units above the X axis. Breaking down the percentages, selecting choice E by, by for example race ethnicity, shows us that 52% of Asian students answered this item correctly, a higher percentage than other groups; and as a result, consistent with the average scores for these groups in 2011. Now let’s turn to the results for reading. The 2011 reading assessment asked students to read two types of text, literary and informational. The two types were given equal weight at grade four, as shown in the first column, while at grade eight, the balance was slightly shifted in favor of informational text. Students answered questions based on these texts that reflected three distinct reading processes, the kinds of thinking that underly reading comprehension. After reading each passage, students were asked to locate and recall, to integrate and interpret, or to critique and evaluate. At grade four, locate and recall received more emphasis than critique and evaluate, while at grade eight, the reverse was true. Grade eight, the reverse was true. At grade four, the average score of 221 was no higher than in 2009, but four points higher than 1992. Looking, again, at student performance by percentile, we see no increase since 2009 for any of the five percentiles, although scores have increased since 1992 for all five levels. The achievement level results show the same pattern as the percentile scale score distribution. No increases since 2009 for any group, but increases since the first assessment year for all groups. The percentage at advanced has risen by two percentage points overall since 1992, and five points for those at or above proficient, and also five points for those at or above basic. Here we show the Asian Pacific Islander/White score gap. In 1992, White students scored eight points higher than Asian and Pacific Islander students. In 2011, Asian Pacific Islander students actually scored four points higher than White students, reversing this gap. In both 1992 and 2011, the score differences between the two groups were statistically significant. NAEP uses student eligibility for the National School Lunch program as a measure of family income. So students whose family income qualifies them for free lunches have the lowest family income compared to those eligible for reduce-priced lunches and those whose family income is high enough to make them ineligible for this program. In 2011, students at all three family income levels had scores that were higher than in any previous assessment year going back to 2003. This was true from 2009 to 2011, even though the overall grade-four score for this period did not change. Turning to the states, in 2011, fourth graders in the four states shown here in blue, Massachusetts, Maryland, Alabama, and Hawaii, had higher reading scores than in 2009. Average score declined in the two states shown in red, South Dakota, and Missouri. And in the remaining 46 states and jurisdictions, scores were not significantly different than 2009. Among the many other background questions that we asked our students, the NAEP reading assessment asked them how often they read for fun on their own time. As shown in the bar at the bottom, 46% said they read for fun almost every day, and these students scored higher on average than students who read for fun less frequently. This figure breaks down the percentages of students reporting that they read for fun almost every day by gender, race ethnicity, and family income. Female students were more likely to say that they read almost every day for fun than male students. Asian students were similarly more likely to say they read almost every day than students in the other race ethnic groups; and for family income, the difference between eligible and not eligible students, three points, was statistically significant as well. Here is an example of a grade-four reading passage. This passage, Tough as Daisy, is a short story told in the first person about a girl who is the only girl in her school to try out for the wrestling team. Of course, it’s hard for you to read what we’re showing you, but you can get an idea of the length of the passage. Notice as well that there are short paragraphs and illustrations. You can find the full text of this story at the beginning of Page 30 in the report. Here is an example of a question asking students to integrate and interpret what they read in Tough as Daisy. The question says, At the beginning of the story when some the boys point and laugh at Daisy, she thinks, we’ll see about that. What does this tell you about Daisy? 64% of students gave an acceptable response to this question. The answer shown rated as acceptable reads as follows: What this tells me about Daisy is she is confident and strong. She never gives up. She never things she is bad as anything. Breaking this down by gender, we see that 70% of female students gave an acceptable answer, as compared to 58% of male students. Now let’s turn to reading results at grade eight. In the eighth grade the average score of 265 was higher than in both 2009 and 1992. Scores have risen five points since 1992 and one point since 2009. Looking at student performance by percentile again, we see that scores have increased since 1992 for students at all but the 90 percentile; and since 2009, for students at the 90th, 75th, and 10th percentile. Since 1992, scores increased more for students at the 10th and 25th percentiles than for those at the 75th. This figure shows the achievement level percentages at grade eight. As you would expect from the previous figure, the percentage of students at or above proficient was higher in 2011 than in 1992 or 2009. The percentage of students at or above basic was higher only than 1992. Turning to the achievement gaps, scores for both White and Black students were higher in 2011 for grade-eight reading than in any other prior assessment year. The 25-point score gap in 2011 was narrower than in 1992 but not significantly different from 2009. Scores for Hispanic students were also higher in 2011 than in any prior assessment. The 22-point score gap in 2011, in this case was narrower than both 1992 and 2009. Turning to the gender gap, scores for both male and female students were also higher in 2011 than in either 2009 or 1992. Historically, female students have had higher scores than male students in reading. And the nine-point score gap favoring females was narrower in 2011 than in 1992 but unchanged from 2009. Looking at the states, we see in 2011 that eighth graders in these ten states shown in blue had higher reading scores than in 2009, and there were no score declines in any state. Turning again to a sample item, this is the full text of one of the reading passages on the grade-eight assessment, 1920: Women Get the Vote. Again, it’s hard for you to read the screen, where we’re showing you, but you can compare this passage with the one we showed for grade four. First note that this is an informational rather than a literary text. It’s longer than the grade-four reading passage, the paragraphs are longer, and there are subheads. The full text appears in the report beginning on Page 59. The article gives a brief history of women’s struggle to get the ballot in America, beginning with the famous 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, which produced the Womanifesto, a document based on the Declaration of Independence, which first argued that women deserve the same voting rights as men. This is an example of a question asking students to locate and recall something that they read. The question says, According to the article, what was most surprising about the Womanifesto? 59% of students recognized that the demand for equal voting rights was considered the most extreme measure approved by the Seneca Falls Convention. Breaking down these results by type of school, we see that 59% of public school students chose the correct answer, as opposed to 66% of private school students. So, in sum, looking back over the national results for both assessments, the blue triangles here indicate increases compared to 2009. What we see is that scores were higher for both grades four and eight in mathematics, but in reading, scores increased for grade-eight students only. Scores for male students increased for grade-four mathematics and grade-eight reading, while scores for female students increased in mathematics for both grades, and for grade eight in reading. White, Blacks, and Hispanic students all recorded increases for grade-four mathematics and grade-eight reading, while Hispanic students also recorded an increase in grade-eight mathematics. For Asian or Pacific Islander and American Indian or Alaskan Native students, scores did not change significantly for either subject or grade. And summarizing over the state results, we show here changes in state scores for both subjects in grades since 2009. So in mathematics, four states, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, had increases at both grades. In reading, Hawaii and Maryland had increases at both grades. Five states had an increase in grade-four mathematics only, while one state had a decrease. Nine states had an increase in grade-eight mathematics only; and again, only one state showed a decline. Alabama and Massachusetts recorded increases in grade-four reading only, while Missouri and South Dakota showed decreases. Eight states showed an increase in grade-eight reading only, and there were no states with declines. Note also that Hawaii was the only state to have higher scores in both subjects in both grade levels. As always, there is much more information in the 2011 reading and mathematics report cards; and in addition, the initial release website will give you extensive information on the performance of students in each state. Access to released assessment questions through NAEP’s Question Center and the NAEP Data Explorer, our online data analysis tool. In conclusion, as always, I would like to sincerely thank all the students and schools who participated in NAEP this year to make these assessments possible. Thank you. Thank you, Jack. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from your again during the question-and-answer period to follow. But next, we’ll turn to Doris Hicks. Doris is the principal and CEO of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School for Science and Technology in New Orleans. It was the first public school to open in the city’s lower ninth ward after Hurricane Katrina. Doris has contributed to the New Orleans public school system in numerous roles over the years. She’s served as an elementary school teacher, principal, area superintendent, and reading consultant. She also has served in several association leadership positions, including president of both the Principal’s Association of New Orleans Public Schools and the New Orleans Council of the International Reading Association. Thank you for so much for all you’ve done for children in New Orleans, Doris, and thank you for being here with us today. Thank you, Cornelia. You often hear very common catch phrases about reading; Reading is basic, reading is fundamental, reading is a cornerstone of learning, reading is one of the so-called three Rs. There is something else we all need to realize about reading. It’s about having more than one skill. Reading is about a balance of skills, and students making connections to what they read. Understanding this truth about reading is key to improving the performance of the nation’s students. When I first saw the results of the 2011 NAEP assessment in reading, I was pleased to see that our eighth graders’ scores improved compared to the 2009 results. And it was gratifying to see that the scores for Black, Hispanic, and White eighth graders improved over the two years as well. But when you look at the scores at fourth grade, performance has been flat since 2007. Well now that rang an alarm bell with me. Even though it wasn’t a decline, I saw it as losing ground. At Dr. King Charter School in New Orleans, we have what we call a literacy block, which is usually the first hour of the school day before the students’ other classes; and during this time, our students receive direct instruction in reading, and it covers the gamut of skills, phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. I looked at a couple of passages on the NAEP’s reading assessment, and they were illuminating to me. For instance, some fourth graders who took the reading NAEP had to read and answer questions based on a passage about the fame African American opera singer, Marian Anderson, who fought racism and segregation in the 20th century. One challenging question from the passage required students to evaluate the author’s craft. Only 12% of the students’ responses were classified as full comprehension, while 36% were scored as partial comprehension, and 51% as little or no comprehension. I also read through a few eighth-grade questions on a passage about the recycling of computers and the environment. One multiple-choice item required the students to recognize the author’s persuasive technique. 89% of test takers got the correct answer, a much better result. So that made me think even more, we must improve student achievement in reading. At Dr. King Charter School we try very hard to get kids motivated and excited about reading. There is a special activity that we do at the beginning of each school year called Jazz Up Reading, where an actual jazz band comes to perform, and the kids commit to increase their reading level. Also at the end of each quarter, we award Jazz Up reading certificates to the students who have made significant increases. In addition, on the last Friday of each month, we have a reader’s chair activity. The three best readers in a particular class for that month are selected to go to the library under the supervision of the librarian and select a book to read to another class. Students are highly motivated because they want to be chosen. We encourage parents to be role models in the home by reading themselves and reading with their children. We also understand the realities of serving a high poverty student population. Some 98% of our students are eligible for free or reduce-priced lunch, so not very many homes have resources like computers or a lot of reading materials. Consequently, our literacy block initiative becomes the model for reading, and we ask parents to continue the efforts as they can, even if it’s through simple encouragement. My goal is to see fourth graders perform better on the 2013 NAEP assessment in reading and to see performance improve even more across the board. Then we can add another phrase of our own to reading instruction; Students excel on NAEP reading. Thank you. Now I will turn things back to Cornelia. Thank you so much, Doris. Now we turn to David Driscoll, Governing Board chair and former Commissioner of Education from Massachusetts. As a former secondary school mathematics teacher and former president of the council of two state school offices, Dave’s career in public education and leadership spans more than four decades. Welcome, Dave. We look forward to your comments. Thank you, Cornelia. 2011 presents an interesting milestone for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. It’s been essentially 40 years that we’ve been testing, and it’s been almost ten years that we’ve gotten results from all states mandated under No Child Left Behind. But perhaps most importantly, it’s 20 years since NAEP has been able to report state-by-state results, and it’s also 20 years that we reported those results in terms of achievement levels. The NAEP mathematics framework and the achievement levels of basic, proficient, and advanced all began with the 1990 NAEP assessment. These were all ushered in by legislation passed by Congress on a large bipartisan vote in 1988, and that really started an important new chapter for NAEP and in education accountability more generally, and that is still the case today. A chief sponsor of that legislation was the late Senator Edward Kennedy, senior senator from my State of Massachusetts; and while he’s no longer with us, the new more prominent NAEP Ted Kennedy helped create shows that major improvements in math achievement has, indeed, taken place over the last two decades. In 1990, just 13% of fourth graders nationwide reached proficient. This year, 40% reached proficient. In 1990, the national average for fourth graders was 213, and this year that’s climbed 28 points to 241. There has been major gains over the past two decades in eighth grade math as well, from 15% to 35% reaching proficient, and a 21-point rise in the national average. Unfortunately, the gains over the last two decades in reading, NAEP reading, have been quite small, just five points in the percentage of students at or above proficient at both fourth and eighth grades, compared to a gain of 20 and 27% points at or above proficient in math. And there’s been an interesting flip. When we set the achievement levels around 1990, the percent at or above proficient was far higher in reading than in math. This year, the proportion reaching proficient is higher in math. The improvement in mathematics achievement undoubtedly reflects the success of math instruction in our schools because math is almost exclusively a school subject, taught almost entirely in math classes. That’s quite different in reading, where the achievement that NAEP measures often reflects also how much children read outside of school, as Jack reported; and the reading demands across the curriculum, not just in reading classes or English Language Arts. Despite the improvements in mathematics, it clearly has not been enough. Over the past eight years, progress has slowed, particularly with grade four, where it had been very rapid for more than a decade. The percentage of students below basic has been reduced substantially, but it still remains far too high, particularly at eighth grade for Blacks and Hispanics. In public schools nationwide, 50% of Black eighth graders and 40% of Hispanics scored below the basic achievement level. This means they still have difficulty doing basic arithmetic. Students at that level who clearly have difficulty with the algebra may need to put — a need that would put them on track for college. Also, the gaps between the races remain unacceptably wide. At eighth grade, the gaps between White and Black students and White and Hispanics have narrowed by about one quarter compared to the year 2000, but they are still about as large as they were when the current NAEP mathematics assessment was first given in 1990. The two decades of state-by-state NAEP data show that while progress overall has been substantial, there have been very substantial differences in the gains in different states. For example in fourth grade math since 1992, the average score in North Carolina has increased by 32 points, in Maryland by 40, in Mississippi and Arkansas by 28, and in Massachusetts and Louisiana by 27. At the other end of the spectrum, the list of average scores, Iowa and Maine have gained just 14 points, and Nebraska 14. In eighth-grade math, the largest increases since 1992 have been in North Carolina, 28 points; and in Texas and Massachusetts, 26 points. Conversely, the smallest gains have been in Iowa, just two points; Nebraska, six points; and North Dakota and Utah, nine points. Clearly, NAEP shows that some states have moved ahead strongly over the past two decades. Others have gained much less than the nation as a whole, and their relative standing has slipped. This has become a great concern state leaders; and now particularly, the leadership role that people in Iowa, including the governor, have taken around this issue. The District of Columbia has made large gains in both fourth and eighth-grade math but still rank below all states. The first state NAEP assessments had a large number of states volunteering, 37, plus the District of Columbia in 1990, and 41 plus the District of Columbia of in 1992. Since 2003, all states have been required to participate in the NAEP assessment of mathematics and reading at grades four and eight. Over the past eight years, the largest gains overall were in Maryland and Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, based on the increase in the percent reaching proficient in math and reading for grades four and eight combined. By the same accounting, that is the increase in the percent reaching proficient in math and reading for both grades four and eight, several other states are still virtually still, notably Iowa, New York, and West Virginia. NAEP by itself cannot tell us why there have been gains or not, but it does show us where to look and perhaps where to delve into policies and practices that have made a difference. There is one important new feature in this year’s NAEP report cards, a state-by-state listing of how well different jurisdictions met the Governing Board’s goal for inclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners. As the maps at the back of the two reports show, almost all states met the board’s target of including at least 95% of students selected for the samples in mathematics, and more than three quarters met that goal in reading. However, quite a few more states failed to meet the target of assessing at least 85% of students identified as students with disability or English language learners. The exclusion rates continued the drop, but they still remain considerably greater for students with disabilities than for English language learners, and largely in reading than in math. Where exclusion rates are high, there will continue to be questions about whether our reported results for students with disabilities or ELL students are fully representative. In the next NAEP assessment in 2013, the National Center for Education Statistics will begin to implement the new rules for combinations in exclusions adopted by the Governing Board last year. Hopefully this will lead to even more uniformity and more inclusion. If we were talking at today’s release only about 2011 and looked just there or in comparison to just 2009, there really wouldn’t be much to talk about. However, when you look over the last two decades, clearly we see major gains that have occurred in mathematic achievement, but only modest improvements in reading. Thank you, Cornelia. Thank you, David. Now we turn to Keith Rheault who is superintendent of Public Instruction for Nevada public schools. He oversees a statewide school system that educates more than 400,000 students. Some of his areas of concentration include student accountability systems, the improvement of career and technological education programs, teacher licensure, and teacher effectiveness. Welcome, Keith. We’re pleased to have you with us today. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for inviting me to comment today on the National Assessment for Educational Progress reports on reading and math. I was pleased to receive the invitation for two reasons; it gives me a chance to discuss what we are doing in education in Nevada at a difficult time fiscally within our state, and it also provides me the opportunity to talk about the value of NAEP in helping us understand how well we are doing and how well our students compare to others across the country. As many of you may know, during the current recession, Nevada has become number one in the nation in some pretty dismal statistics. The state is number one in foreclosures, and median housing prices are down more than half since in boom years in 2006 and 2007, which is the largest drop in the nation. Nevada has the highest state unemployment rate, 13.4% in September, and the number one bankruptcy rate. Our resort and gaming industries have been hit hard by the recession, and construction, which boomed in the 2000s, has gone bust. All this has meant that property tax collections are down, the state budget has been cut, the teaching force has been reduced, and spending on K-12 education has been cut by several hundred million since 2008; however in spite of all these challenges, our state has continued to make gains on NAEP in both math and reading in most years. The improvements have been steady, not spectacular; but over the past eight years, they have added up to quite a bit. Nevada is still below the national average; but since 2003, we have gained on the averages in both grades and both subjects. We still rank in the bottom quarter of the states in average scores, but compared to 2003, the first year all states participated in NAEP, Nevada ranks in the top quarter of the states making gains. Over the past two years, from 2009 to 2011, eighth graders in Nevada public schools have made statistically significant gains in both reading and math. The reports show that our fourth graders had two-point increases in both subjects; but according to NAEP statisticians, these were still within the margin of error on the test. I think one of the reasons our fourth grade scores have increased was due the part to the Federal Reading-First Program. And I base that on the fact that our scores started going up the year after we received the grants, and Nevada was the only state to receive the targeted assistance grant under the Reading-First Program by meeting all our measurable objectives. In addition, as a direct result of the funding cuts we had in our state, Nevada eliminated the state-required norm reference test we had used to compare ourselves to the rest of the nation. Instead, we now rely on NAEP and it’s representative samples, and both NAEP and our state test have been showing an upward trend. If NAEP and our own test weren’t moving in the same direction, we are required at the Department of Education, by statute, to explain what’s going on to the state legislature, as we should. Like most of the states, Nevada has set our standards at about the basic achievement level on NAEP. Our results on the Nevada criterion reference test and at the basic level on NAEP have moved pretty much in the same direction. At eighth grade, 67% of Nevada students have reached the NAEP basic achievement level in math, and 69% have reached the basic level in reading. That’s not nearly good enough, but we have been making gains. Nevada is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and in 2014/2015, we plan to start using their version of the common core state standard exams. But I’m sure we will continue to be a part of NAEP as well, because we continue to need the independent check that NAEP provides to see whether we’re doing a good job. In summary, overall, I’m pleased with the news NAEP is giving us this year, but I’m still far from satisfied. These improvements during tough times show we are beating some of the odds, but we are still pretty far from where we ought to be. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to everyone this morning, and I will turn it back to Cornelia. Thank you so much, Keith. We’ll now begin the part of our webinar where we will address all your questions. Amy Buckley is going to facilitate this portion of your session, and she will open up the floor for the questions that have been submitted. Amy? Thank you so much, Cornelia, and thank you to our wonderful panelists. For those of you who have questions about the results, please submit them now. As Tammy mentioned, we ask that you direct your questions to all panelists. Also, please include your organization’s name when typing in your question. I’d like to note that we also have Dr. Peggy Carr available for questions, who is Associate Commissioner with NCES. We intend to be mindful of everyone’s time; and as we are approaching the top of the hour, I wanted to let you know that we will be going through several questions beyond the top of the hour. We will try to end by 12:15. These are two very big and important report cards, and we want to address as in questions as we can. Our first question is from Jack Trammel with Randolph-Macon College. He asked, What are the most important changes represented in this version of the report card? Dr. Orr? I think, as you heard earlier, the opportunity this year to assess Asian students separately and report on them is an important aspect of this report. Also, as you just heard Chairman Driscoll mention, the focus on inclusion information across the states is also an interesting addition. I think, to me, it was quite notable the continued progress that Hispanic students have made and is being reported in the report, particularly some movement on closing that gap with White students. Jack, what else would you like to add? Well I think in terms of results, certainly Hawaii and their performance is worth commenting on. And also, I think it’s important to note that we see higher percentages of fourth and eighth graders at or above the proficient level in mathematics and a higher percentage of eighth graders at or above proficient in reading, comparing to 2009, which is contrary to a lot of the rhetoric going around right now about how students at the top are stagnant and not improving. We actually see some improvements in the percentages of students at proficiency and even at advanced, which is something that’s good to see. Thank you. Our next question is from State Representative Jake Wheatley with the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He asked, what can be done to drastically improve the educational and opportunity gap for our minority children as it relates to reading and math, especially in the face of constraining of state and local government budgets? Dr. Rheault, can you start us off on that at the local level? Well the question asked, you know, what can be done to drastically improve, you know, my feeling is, you’ve got to — there’s no quick fixes. You’ve got to keep plugging away at it, and you can show steady gains like we have in Nevada. First you’ve got to get the best, highest quality teachers in the classroom, have a laser focus, and understand where the students are deficient between the Black students and then make sure that instruction takes place with those students. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Kim Archer with Tulsa World. She asked, Are NAEP scores a fair and accurate representation of student progress in various subjects; in this case, reading and math? Dr. Buckley, could you start us off, and then perhaps Dr. Driscoll would like to offer comments. Well, we certainly think that NAEP scores are a fair and accurate measure of student progress. We endeavor every year to make sure that we’re able to make accurate, valid, and reliable comparisons back to previous assessment years, since we spend a lot of time on the statistical side making sure that we can equate the tests properly over time and that measurement validity is unchanged. Anything to add? So Jack has to give that psychometric answer and technical answer, which is right. Technically, psychometrically I think it is clearly an accurate representation. I can just tell you as a practitioner, as a commissioner, you have to rely on it. I mean if you look it over time, it’s been consistent and consistent in states. States like mine that have made drastic changes in standards and assessment and so forth have seen gains. So we’ve seen it in North Carolina and other places like Texas that had real reform efforts. So I think it’s clear from a pragmatic point of view, as well as a scientific point of view that NAEP has withstood the scrutiny that all the doctoral candidates like to look at and so forth and so on to show that it is a fair and accurate representation of student achievement. Thank you very much. Our next question is from Maisie McAdoo with United Federation of Teachers. McAdoo asked, Have NAEP researchers evaluated the relative gains in math in recent years against the flatter reading results? Is there any explanation for the differences? Dr. Buckley? Well I’ll tell you — to begin with that NAEP researchers, of which I’m referring to folks at the National Center for Education Statistics and our affiliates, spend a lot of time making sure that the measurements is valid and reliable, but are not the folks to turn to for an analysis of why or causation. I mean there are many possible reasons for gains or lack thereof in NAEP scores over the years. Folks are quick to often use these scores to evaluate their favorite policies and programs, but it turns out, of course, in education in the United States is very complicated. There is a combination of many state and local and national classroom-level policies and practices that are changing all the time, and so we’re happy that NAEP is there to start these conversations, but they’re certainly not designed to be a definitive experimental study that would offer explanations for exactly why variation has occurred. Thank you. Our next question is from Lindsay Molstad with Minnesota Reading Corp. and Minnesota Math Corp. She asks, Could you please share some best practices, strategies, or interventions that you have read about or seen across the nation that are effective in closing the achievement gap in reading and math. Dr. Driscoll, could you address that one? Yes. Thank you, Amy. First of all, I think there are clearly a number of practices that people have pointed out. Setting high standards and paying attention to the data, looking at the data carefully, what does it say? Keith talked a little bit about that. Also, the use by local teachers in classrooms and formative assessments that match to the state assessments and even national assessments we release questions. They can do that to show individual progress by kids over time and so forth. I think the biggest thing that we’ve seen — Doris talked a little bit about it with her example of the jazz band — is engagement of kids, motivation. We’ve got to find way to get kids turned on and see connections, and I think you see this across the country where people don’t teach to the test. People take the standards and present it to kids in very engaging motivating ways. I think that’s when you see the best results. Thank you very much. Our next question is from Eunice Terry with Crews Middle School. She would like to know if there is data available for students with disabilities; and if so, what does that show? Dr. Buckley. Sure. Absolutely there are data available for students with disabilities, and what they show is overall is a pretty significant trend of improvement. So for example, in grade-four mathematics scores for students with disabilities increased from an average of 204 in 1996 to 218 in 2011 nationally. We see this trend — a similar trend across the other grade levels and subjects, although in some cases there is a slight decline for students with disabilities looking back, comparing just from 2011 to 2009. Overall over the entire period, we actually see some pretty marked improvement. Thank you very much. Our next question is from Sidna Bookout. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s been there for five years, and although he’s not employed by the schools, he is a retired educator. As someone who is not pleased with the rating of the local schools and the graduation rate, Sidna would like to know what citizens who are not school district employees can do to improve the schools. Dr. Hicks, you’re at the most local level of all the panelists, do you want to start us off there? Thanks, Amy. Well, each citizen has a stake in students’ success. And I would suggest getting involved in the schools by becoming a volunteer. Actually, providing extra help for students who need it is a tremendous, tremendous help to students in schools. When educators and community stakeholders work together in pursuit of common goals, the educational environment and outcomes improve significantly. You certainly would be an asset to the Memphis school district. Thanks. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Constance Beecher with Washington State University. She asks a very broad question. What do you feel is the take-home message we can share with teachers? And I imagine all of our panelists have something to say about these reports for the teachers. Dr. Driscoll, can you start us off, and then others can feel free to add afterwards. Particularly when we see — I’m going first, Doris. I’m the chair, remember. I think when you look at state results in particular, you see the differences. I think there for teachers it shows that in those states that paying attention to setting high standards and finding ways to meet those, that’s really the take-home message. So that’s really, to me, the message within the district. I also think there’s a message for teachers outside the district, and that is when we look at the difference between math and reading. And I made the comment I think in mathematics it’s clearly a school subject typically, where reading can rely on things outside. So I think there is a message for teachers, another take home message, as Doris just pointed out, and that’s partnering with the community and/or parents in particular. We’ve got to get parents to understand how serious this all is. So I read today where Idaho has found a way to include parents’ engagement. So I think those are the two messages; high standards within, try to get parents more involved in the system. Anyone like to add to that? Hi. In addition to that, I’d like to add that literacy is the foundation of school improvement, that teachers and schools must continue to focus efforts on raising literacy achievement in order to improve overall school outcome. Ensuring literacy achievement for all students is no longer a luxury, it is an economic necessity. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Art McFarland with WABC-TV. He asked, How concerned should states and school districts be with no significant change to their scores? Dr. Buckley, could you address that? Well I mean I think it’s important to look at this a couple different ways. I mean first of all, to borrow a metaphor from Kevin Carey who is an education policy analyst at Education Sector, improving student achievement is like climbing a mountain, and the higher you climb the harder the next step gets. And so I wouldn’t want the district or state to be discouraged by not necessarily seeing the growth that they had hoped to get, especially when you consider a lot of the other context effects that are going on in the country at the time of declining budget shortfalls and property tax revenue issues like we heard about in Nevada, it can be pretty hard to just keep pace let alone see improvement, and so I wouldn’t want anyone to get too discouraged. Thank you so much. Our next question is from Lynda Sampson with Metropolitan Saturday Academy Science and Technology Program. She asks, Can STEM education enrichment programs, during, after, and on the weekend at the middle school level be beneficial to middle school students to enhance their science and math achievements? Dr. Rheault, could you address that, please? Yes. A quick response to that question would be, in my opinion, any program that provides additional learning time that can peak a student’s interest in the subjects and in this case she called it an enrichment program provides, particularly middle school students, the chance to be energetic, motivated to learn, and with that comes being successful in math and science. Thank you. Our next question is from Joanne Becker with SJSU. She asks, Can you address any gender differences in the mathematics assessments? Dr. Buckley? Well what we see is, first of all, we might think back to the slides where we showed the gender gaps in reading, that there’s actually a much larger gender gap between boys and girls in reading than there is in mathematics. It’s only about a one-point gap between girls and boys in mathematics, compared to about seven or nine, depending on which grade level you look at in reading. And also I guess we should say in looking back over time, actually, this gap did not change in mathematics compared to 2009. Thank you very much. Our next question is from Tami Berg with Nevada Parent/Teachers Association. Tami asks, If testing criteria, and in some cases, the full test are change year to year, how are districts supposed to be able to do comparisons? It seems as if this is something that occurs every year and is frustrating to teachers who are then graded on the progress made. Dr. Orr, can you address the criteria question? I will. But it does sound like Tammy is asking a question about a local assessment rather than about NAEP, so I can’t really specifically answer the question she’s asking about her local assessment. But I do know that the framework for NAEP is designed to be a comprehensive framework, and items are developed to measure that framework. And so while we release some items each year like the ones released with this release, those are replaced with similar items to measure the same concepts. So I’ll turn it to over NCS and see if they want to add to that. Sure. It’s a great question; right. There’s an old saying in educational measurement, if you want to measure change, don’t change the measure, and, certainly, we’re sympathetic to that. However, you know, NAEP is a very complicated assessment, and it is necessary to make changes at the item level because we’re releasing items because of other reasons, and so, as Cornelia mentioned, what we do is take a lot of time and effort in terms of field testing and cognitive labs and other work where we do to make sure that the items that we replace are replaced with particular questions that have the same properties, whether there’s similar difficulty that are measuring the same parts of the frameworks. And so that said, and we also keep a series of item that don’t change from year to year, and we use those to help those to set the score to make sure that the trends are constant. And so we’re confident, certainly at NAEP, that our measure is not changing even though some pieces of it might be. And I would say in defense of most state testing programs, they follow very similar steps, and so folks that are out there implementing these at the state level, they certainly are aware of this problem, and they do the same thing. And so, again, this is part of the science of how you do educational measurement. It’s also a mechanism to keep us from just focusing on the items; right? We need to focus on the skills that we’re teaching students across many different kinds of items. Great. Thank you. Our next question is from Geoff Decker with Gotham Schools. Geoff states, Please address the publicized gains that many states and school districts make about their own standardized tests when, in fact, their progress on NAEP are usually moderate at best. Dr. Driscoll, can you talk about the state’s response in positioning? Well — and I think sometimes there are reasons why things happen at the local level. Keith talked about all the various factors in Nevada, for example. But I think that we’ve become the independent verifier. I mean I think there are some states that have talked about increases or high rates of proficient or whatever, but when compared to NAEP they weren’t as high. So I think we truly become the independent verifier. Great. Thank you. Our next question — actually two people submitted very similar questions, Janice Riddell with Harvard’s Kennedy School and Albert Mitchell with New Jersey Minority Educational Development. They’re wondering about the 2011 results and if they show a narrowing of the achievement gap between White/Asian students and African American/Latino students or higher SES students and lower SES students in either reading and math at grade four and/or eight. Dr. Buckley? Well the Asian or Pacific Islander versus White student gaps in grades four and eight in mathematics did not change significantly over the period from 1990 to 2011. In grade four reading, we actually saw that White student scores were eight points higher than Asian or Pacific islander students back in 1992, but that this gap reversed in 2011, with the Asian Pacific Islander students scoring four points higher than the White students in grade four reading. In grade eight reading, actually, the Asian/White gap did not change significantly between 1992 and 2011. This is Peggy Carr. I would add, regarding the income gap that generally we have not seen a change in any of the comparisons that we show in this report for reading and math in fourth and eighth grade, but there is one exception I would point out. For eighth grade math there was a one point — although one point significantly decline in the gap since 2003. Great. Thank you so much. Our next question is from can have Clifton Ogle with AFT Oklahoma. He would like to know if the questions directly correlate with the curriculum and textbooks most students are using. Dr. Orr, could you answer that please? I will. And I will give it a very positive sort of general, yes. The National Assessment Governing Board that develops the framework uses a very comprehensive process of reviewing national and state curriculum, and those are reflected in the textbooks that students use. So the NAEP frameworks are not exactly like any one state or exactly like any one textbook, but they are more generally applicable, and you would find the same concepts in the textbooks in the NAEP framework. So it’s harder when you’re doing an assessment to have all of those hands-on activities, although we do some of that in science. So the test doesn’t mirror — it’s not a mirror image of textbooks, but I think if you would look at the NAEP frameworks on our website, you would find that the concepts you’re teaching from the textbooks in Oklahoma are also found in the framework. Great. Our next question is from John Fensterwald with Silicon Valley Education Foundation. He states, some states like California push Algebra I in eighth grade. Does that create a problem with question alignment for those states on the eighth-grade math test, assuming that some of the material covered no longer will be fresh in students’ minds. Dr. Buckley, could you address that? Well, in the math framework the content area targets are set to reflect the relative importance of these areas at the different grade levels regardless of individual state policies, somewhat like what Cornelia was just saying. However, in the case of algebra, almost one-third of the eighth-grade math assessment is actually devoted to this content area, and the remaining two-thirds distribute items among the other core areas in approximately equal percentages. And so we think it’s pretty unlikely that policies encouraging algebra at a particular time would correlate with lower scores on NAEP. Actually, also, if you look at some of our recording, we find that most students in the nation, about 86%, had teachers who reported on a questionnaire putting heavy emphasis on Algebra, and those students with those teachers scored higher on the NAEP math assessment than those who had teachers who placed little or no emphasis or moderate emphasis on Algebra, so just even relevant to the core sequence thing, we’re finding it has an effect depending on when — or what the teachers are covering, of course, and also that most of our eighth grade population, most of our students are actually receiving Algebra instruction of some sort. Great. Thank you. Our next question is from Steve Schrankel with Department of Defense Education Activity. He asked, How do NAEP proficiency rates for students differ from proficiency rates on states tests of student performance, and if so, why? How can we describe proficiency in terms of what students can do? Dr. Orr, would you like to start us with that question? I’ll start with a very general answer and tell you that the Governing Board has set policy definitions for each of these proficiency levels, and so you will need to know what the policy definition is to know what is actually reflected. In the content you’ll have to dig a little bit deeper. But let me mention that proficient represents solid academic performance and that students who reach this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter. So if you’re not using a similar definition as that to proficient for your expectation, as you have indicated, you might expect more students would be proficient than are showing up on the NAEP exam. Great. Yes, absolutely true. And I would add to that that we have released a series of studies where we try and map and use the NAEP scale to put states’ proficiency test scores on a single metric so we can look and see that variation. And I can say that proficiency here, this is the proficiency as defined by the State under Secondary Education Act or commonly referred to as the authorization No Child Left Behind. And what we see there as Steve has mentioned, is really an enormous amount of variation. States set their proficiency scores sort of very differently from each other, and there’s a wide variation across the states. But in many cases, they are doing that for different reasons, or they have defined proficiency in a way differently than the Governing Board does in some cases, or they’ve got a different strategy for how they want to improve student achievement and it depends on sort of where they want to put that bar and how they want to change it over time. I think the important thing is to realize is, first, to know there is a lot of variation there and then to track that variation and make sure that we know we’re constantly proficient or using the term might be reporting something different depending on who you are talking to. Thank you so much. Our next question, I think it might be our last question. Thank you all for staying with us. Several people asked a question regarding NAEP and Common Core, and that included Julie Anderson with Oregon Department of Education, Alice Gill with AFT, Robin Hill with Kentucky Department of Education, and Alice Gabbard with the Kentucky Center for Math. And they are interested in knowing if there was any alignment with NAEP and Common Core for the 2011, and if there are any plans for aligning or for NAEP and Common Core impacting each other? Dr. Driscoll, could you address that. I would like to say in NAG and NAEP we need to stick to our knitting. So it isn’t a question of us changing. We do what we do. It’s a matter of working with a number of other groups. Sometimes we work with states. And in the case of the Common Core, the people developing the Common Core standards looked very carefully at our standards. They also looked at some states, some other countries, and so forth. The same would be true of the two consortia that are developing assessments as a result of the Common Core. So I think we won’t see any changes in — our frameworks are set, our testing program is set for the next few years. We do introduce a number of things, new subjects, technology, computer-based assessment, which we’re doing, and so forth. So we’re stay on the cutting edge in that regard. But our frameworks are set; and again, I think it will be in the interest of the consortia and the Common Core to look at us as the independent verifiers. So we will stay as the North Star, and we’ve cooperated very directly with people in the Common Core and the two consortia, and are happy to do so. Great. Okay. And that’s our last question. If we were not able to address your question, and there were a few dozen, we appreciate your interest and know that we will be responding to you, hopefully within a business day. Dr. Orr? Thank you, Amy. And I’d just like to add a final thank you to all of our participants. You can visit our NAEP website at the NATIONSREPORTCARD.GOV and it will not only have this report but also various tools that you can use to do your own inquiry about the data using the NAEP data explorer, and also to take a deeper look at NAEP questions. You can see the ones that were released this time but also questions that were released from previous administrations, and you can learn how students in your jurisdiction performed on those questions. If you do have a question, you can ask NAEP at the event today. Dr. Peggy Carr, who is Associate Commissioner for the assessment division at the National Center for Educational Statistics will be having a sat chat at two o’clock this afternoon, and she will get into the heart of the matter with the statistics of the test. Also, if journalists have additional questions, they can call Stephan Harris at (202) 357-7504. I appreciate Jack, Doris, David, and Keith, and their remarks that they have provided for us today, and I would like to thank all of you for participating. Please be on the lookout for the nation’s report card’s next release of the urban district assessment in math and reading from 2011. That will happen later this year. Thank you so much.