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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Test scores show little progress

S.C. 8th-graders provide only bright spot in results on national assessment
Performance by South Carolina elementary and middle school students who took a nationally recognized test this spring showed little improvement over results posted two years ago, according to a federal report issued Tuesday.

The state’s average scores on reading sections of the National Assessment of Education Progress that fourth- and eighth-graders took were below the national average. So was the state average on the math section taken by fourth-graders.

Only S.C. eighth-graders did well enough on math to top the national average for that grade level.
Nationally, test scores in math show promising increases, as did scores by fourth-graders on the reading section, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

NAEP scores are used to provide a snapshot of where students across the country stand academically in core subjects.
Here is what you need to know about the test scores:
What is the National Assessment of Education Progress?
It is a test administered randomly to children that attempts to measure what they know in key subjects, such as math, reading (English) and science. Since every state accepts federal money to supplement funding for schools with a high percentage of poor students, they must provide access to a sampling of students to take the tests.

Who took the most recent tests?
Fourth- and eighth-graders in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools. In South Carolina, about 7,100 fourth-graders took tests in reading and math, while another 5,300 eighth-graders took similar tests in the same subjects.

Why are the tests important?
The federal government uses results on NAEP tests to gauge progress public school students are making nationally toward a 2014 goal that every child will consistently score proficient, the second highest of a four-tier rating system. (The highest is advanced.)

How do NAEP tests compare to Palmetto Achievement Challenge Tests that S.C. students in grades three through eight take each spring?

They are similar, but not identical. South Carolina modeled its PACT program after the federal testing system. NAEP is the one yardstick that can be used to compare the performance of all students nationally.

How did my child’s school or school district do?
The U.S. Department of Education report includes only state-level statistics.
How did South Carolina children measure up to their peers?
Math scores were stronger than reading scores at both grade levels, but none were statistically different from those posted by a different group of S.C. students in 2005. According to state Education Department, here is how it said South Carolina’s 2007 scores ranked:

Math, grade 4: 36th
Math, grade 8: 29th
Reading, grade 4: 43rd
Reading, grade 8: 41st
Is there any good news for South Carolina in this latest measure?
Eighth-graders turned in the strongest performance on the math section. According to the state Education Department, that group posted a better average score than 16 other states, including Florida and Georgia as well as Michigan and Rhode Island.

How can I learn more about the test?
Visit online.
Grade 4 reading Nation | 220 N.C. | 218 S.C. | 214

Grade 4 math Nation | 239 N.C. | 242 S.C. | 237

Grade 8 reading Nation | 261 N.C. | 259 S.C. | 257

Grade 8 math Nation | 280 N.C. | 284 S.C. | 282

Source: The National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education

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