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2017 NAEP Results: AZ Scores Highlight Need to Address Achievement Gap

by Expect More Arizona
NAEP Scores

What is NAEP?
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics and is the only test that measures student achievement in all states.

NAEP vs. AzMERIT
NAEP reading and math tests are administered every other year to a representative sample of students nationwide and results focus on trends in data over time, as opposed to a snapshot from any one year. Approximately 2300 4th and 8th grade students in 120 schools were tested in 2017. Participating schools are chosen at random. By comparison, Arizona’s statewide assessment, AzMERIT, is administered to every student in grades 3 through high school each year and gives educators and parents insight into whether or not an individual student is on track.

National Scores at a Glance
Compared to 2015, there was a 1-point increase in the average reading score at grade 8 in 2017, but no significant change in the average score for reading at grade 4, or for mathematics at either grade. Compared to the initial assessments in the early 1990s, average scores for both subjects were higher at both grades.

Arizona Scores at a Glance
There was little change in Arizona student scores from 2015 to 2017. Compared to 2015 the average math score for 4th grade slipped 4 points, the average for 8th grade math slipped 1 point and there was no change in 4th or 8th grade reading.

Average Scores on a 0-500 Scale

4th Grade
Reading
8th Grade
Reading
4th Grade
Math
8th Grade
Math
U.S. – 2017 221 265 239 282
Arizona – 2017 215 263 234 282
Arizona – 2015 215 263 238 283
Arizona – 2000 206 260 219 269

 

Percent of Students Proficient and Above
The percent of Arizona students that are proficient or above falls below the national average in all categories except 8th grade math.

4th Grade
Reading
8th Grade
Reading
4th Grade
Math
8th Grade
Math
U.S. 35% 35% 40% 33%
Arizona 30% 30% 34% 34%

 

Arizona’s Achievement Gap (average scores on 0-500 scale)

Arizona’s achievement gap persists, with significant differences in scores between White students and students of color (20-46 points), and between low-income students and their higher income peers (18-34 points) . It is worth noting that White students and students who are NOT eligible for free and reduced lunch both outperform the national average, while Hispanic, Native American, Black and low-income students fall as much as 35 points below the national average.

  4th Grade
Reading
8th Grade
Reading
4th Grade
Math
8th Grade
Math
U.S. – 2017 221 265 239 282
AZ White students 232 274 247 296
AZ Hispanic students 204 254 226 269
AZ Native American students 186 254 223 263
AZ Black students 206 254 223 272
AZ Students Eligible  for Free or Reduced Lunch 203 254 224 270
AZ Students Not Eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch 237 272 251 293

* FRL=Free or Reduced Lunch

The Good News
Average scores for both subjects were higher at both grades compared to scores in 2000. Data also show that gaps in average reading scores decrease between 4th and 8th grade for Hispanic, Native America, Black and low-income students, which is a testament Arizona’s amazing educators and hard-working students. Arizona 8th graders are at the national average in math and within 2 points of the national average in 8th grade reading, however, compared to top performing states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Minnesota, we still have a long way to go.

What does this all mean?
While there has been growth in the right direction since 2000, the low percentage of Arizona students who performed at or above proficiency shows we still have a long way to go to ensure every child is successful in school and in life. In particular, we need to focus on closing the achievement gap in Arizona and ensuring background, income and zip code are not barriers to an excellent education.

Arizona’s students and educators have shown what they can do despite some of the most significant education funding cuts in the nation. Imagine what our average scores might look like if education funding were increased so that teachers had smaller class sizes, access to 21st century resources and curriculum materials and professional development, and competitive salaries.

We must work together to ensure all students receive an excellent education that helps them become critical thinkers, problem solvers and life-long learners, from their earliest years through their first jobs and beyond. And we need to support Arizona’s educators by addressing issues such as professional development, access to better curricular resources, class size, pay and more.

Get Involved!

Learn more about the Arizona Education Progress Meter, which represents key milestones on the path to improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all Arizonans. The Progress Meter looks at eight important education indicators, including 3rd grade reading and 8th grade math, using the best statewide data available.

Sign up for our advocacy list to receive information about opportunities to weigh in on the education issues that matter to you.

Making Progress Together

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