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For Immediate Release
October 19, 2005
Contact: Charles Pyle
Director of Communications
(804) 371-2420
 
Julie Grimes
Public Information Specialist
(804) 225-2775

Virginia Students Again Outscore the Nation and South in Reading and Math on “Nation’s Report Card”

Virginia fourth- and eighth-grade students achieved at significantly higher levels in reading and mathematics on the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) than their public school counterparts nationwide and in the South.

The NAEP, also known as The Nation’s Report Card, is a national measure of student achievement that is taken by samplings of students in each state and nationwide. Tests in reading and mathematics are administered every two years and provide a means of comparing the progress of states in raising student achievement.

The average scores of Virginia students on the 2005 NAEP reading test were significantly higher than the average scores of students in 35 states in grade 4 and 30 states in grade 8. Students in only one state – Massachusetts – achieved at what the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) considers a statistically higher level on the fourth- and eighth-grade reading tests.

“The performance of our students on this year’s national tests continues what is now a ten-year trend of higher achievement in reading and mathematics and reflects the improving quality and effectiveness of instruction in the commonwealth’s public schools,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jo Lynne DeMary. “While much remains to be done to strengthen the reading and mathematics skills of our students, the incremental increases in achievement we are seeing from one administration of the NAEP to the next add up to significant gains over time and show that our schools are moving in the right direction.”

Grade-4 Reading

The commonwealth’s fourth-grade students achieved an average score of 226 on the 2005 NAEP reading test, a three-point improvement over 2003, and significantly higher than 1998’s average grade-4 reading score of 217. Statistically, Virginia’s average fourth-grade score for 2005 was significantly higher than the average score for students in the nation and the South of 217.

The achievement of Virginia fourth graders on the 2005 test also was significantly higher than the average score of 221 posted by fourth-grade students in 1992. A plunge in reading achievement on the 1994 NAEP to 213 preceded the revision of the Standards of Learning (SOL) by the Board of Education in 1995 and the implementation of new accountability standards in 1997. Virginia’s average fourth-grade reading score has climbed 13 points since the beginning of the SOL reform in 1995.

Seventy-two percent of Virginia fourth-grade students performed at or above the “Basic” level on the 2005 reading test, compared with 69 percent in 2003. The percentage of Virginia fourth-grade students scoring at the “Proficient” level or above on the test increased 2 points, to 37 percent. The percentage of Virginia fourth graders performing at or above the Proficient level on the NAEP reading test has risen by a statistically significant 11 points since 1994. During this same period, the percentage of Virginia fourth-graders performing below the Basic level (28 percent) has decreased by a statistically significant 15 points.

Average Reading Scale Scores for 1992 - 2005: Grade 4
Group

1992

1994

1998

2002

2003

2005

Virginia

221

213

217

225

223

226

Southeast
South*

211

208

210

214


215*


217*

Nation

215

212

213

217

216

217

* NCES revised regional designations in 2003 to reflect U.S. Census Bureau definitions.

Grade-8 Reading

Virginia eighth-grade students achieved an average reading score of 268, which was 8 points higher than the national average of 260 and 10 points higher than the average score of 258 for students in the South. NCES considers both of differences as statistically significant. Virginia’s 2005 average grade-8 reading score was unchanged from 2003, and two points higher than the average of 266 for 1998, the first year that eighth graders took the NAEP reading test.

Average Reading Scale Scores for 1998 - 2005: Grade 8
Group

1998

2002

2003

2005

Virginia

266

269

268

268

Southeast
South*

258

260


259*


258*

Nation

261

263

261

260

Seventy-eight percent of the commonwealth’s eighth graders performed at or above Basic level on the reading test, which was unchanged from the 2003 administration. Thirty-five percent of the grade-8 students tested performed at the Proficient level or above in 2005, which also was unchanged from the 2003 administration.

Grade-4 Mathematics

Virginia fourth-graders have made significant improvements in mathematics achievement in the past 10 years. The average score of Virginia fourth graders on the 2005 NAEP mathematics assessment was 240, compared with 239 in 2003, 230 in 2000, and 223 in 1996. Virginia’s 2005 average grade-four score in mathematics was what NCES regards as a statistically significant three points higher than the average score of 237 for the South and the nation.

Eighty-three percent of Virginia students in grade 4 achieved at or above the Basic level in mathematics on the 2005 NAEP, which was the same percentage as in 2003. In 1992, only 59 percent of Virginia fourth graders performed at or above the Basic level. The percentage of students in grade 4 who scored at the Proficient level or above increased 4 points, from 35 percent in 2003, to 39 percent in 2005. The percentage of grade-4 students scoring at or above Proficient in reading has increased 20 points since 1996, from 19 percent to 39 percent in 2005. Since 1996, the percentage of fourth graders in the commonwealth scoring below Basic on the NAEP mathematics test has fallen 21 points, from 38 percent to 17 percent.

Average Mathematics Scale Scores for 1992 - 2005: Grade 4

Group

1992

1996

2000

2003

2005

Virginia

221

223

230

239

240

Southeast
South*

210

216

221


233*


237*

Nation

219

222

224

234

237

Grade-8 Mathematics

The commonwealth’s eighth-grade students also outperformed their peers nationwide and in the South in mathematics by statistically significant margins. In 2005, the average score in mathematics for Virginia students in grade 8 was 284, which was 6 points higher than the national average of 278, and 8 points higher than the average score for the South of 276. The average mathematics score for Virginia students in grade 8 was 2 points higher than the 2003 average of 282, nine points higher than the 2000 average of 275, and 14 points higher than the 1996 average score of 270. Thirty-three percent of the Virginia students in grade 8 who took the national mathematics test in 2005 performed at or above the Proficient level, compared with 31 percent in 2003, 25 percent in 2000, and 21 percent in 1996.

Average Mathematics Scale Scores for 1992 - 2005: Grade 8
Group

1990

1992

1996

2000

2003

2005

Virginia

264

268

270

275

282

284

Southeast
South*

254

259

264

264


274*


276*

Nation

262

267

271

272

276

278

Minority Achievement

African-American and Hispanic students in Virginia continued to outperform their peers nationwide and in the South in reading and mathematics. African-American students in only two states achieved significantly higher fourth-grade reading scores. Black students in only one state achieved a significantly higher reading score in grade 8.

African-American fourth graders in the commonwealth achieved a higher average score in mathematics than their peers in all but three states. Black students in grade 8 in Virginia are ranked by NCES as among the highest achieving of their peers in mathematics, with African-American students in no other state demonstrating a significantly higher level of achievement on the 2005 NAEP.

African-American Reading Scale Scores
for 1992 - 2005: Grade 4 and 8

Group

1992

1994

1998

2002

2003

2005

Grade 4

 

Virginia

201

192

199

205

206

207

Southeast
South*

193

187

187

197


197*


199*

Nation

191

184

192

198

197

199

Grade 8

 

Virginia

No Grade-8 Test Administered

250

252

250

251

Southeast
South*

240

243


243*


242*

Nation

242

244

244

242

Black students in Virginia achieved average scores in reading of 207 and 251 in grades 4 and grade 8, respectively, on the 2005 NAEP. The grade-4 and grade-8 scores were each 1 point higher than in 2003, and are statistically higher than the averages for the nation and the South of 199 for African-American students in grade 4, and 242 in grade 8. Since 1994, the average grade-4 reading score of black students in Virginia has risen 15 points.

Black students in Virginia achieved average scores in mathematics of 224 and 263 in grades 4 and 8, respectively, on the 2005 NAEP. The grade-4 and grade-8 mathematics scores for black students in Virginia also represent 1-point increases from 2003 and are significantly higher than the national averages of 220 for African-American students in grade 4 and 254 for black students in grade 8. Black students in Virginia outperformed their peers in the South in mathematics by 3 points in grade 4 and 8 points in grade 8. Since 1996, the average grade-4 mathematics score of black students in Virginia has risen 21 points, while the average score for African-American students in grade 8 has risen 19 points.

African-American Mathematics Scale Scores
for 1992 - 2005: Grade 4 and 8

Group

1992

1996

2000

2003

2005

Grade 4
 

Virginia

199

203

211

223

224

Southeast
South*

191

200

202


217*


221*

Nation

192

199

203

216

220

Grade 8

 

Virginia

245

244

253

262

263

Southeast
South*

234

234

241


252*


255*

Nation

236

241

243

252

254

The average grade-4 reading score for Hispanic students in Virginia increased 8 points to 218, compared with 210 in 2003. Virginia Hispanic students’ average grade-4 reading score for 2005 was 17 points higher than the national average of 201. The average score of Hispanic eighth graders declined 7 points, from 266 in 2003, to 259 in 2005.

Hispanic fourth graders achieved an average mathematics score of 230 on the 2005 NAEP, which was 5 points higher the average score of their peers nationwide. The average score of Hispanic grade-8 students in the commonwealth in 2005 was 270, a 2-point improvement over 2003, and 9 points higher than the national average of 261.

Given the relatively small number of Hispanic test-takers in Virginia, NCES does not regard the changes in the average scores of Hispanic fourth- and eighth-grade students as statistically significant.

NAEP is the only nationally representative assessment of what American students know and can do in various subject areas. The 2005 NAEP sampling of Virginia students included 5,251 fourth-grade students from 127 elementary schools and 5,200 eighth graders from 105 middle schools. Five percent of the fourth graders, and 8 percent of the eighth graders tested in reading were students with disabilities. Students with disabilities accounted for twelve percent of the grade-4 students and 11 percent of the grade-8 students assessed in mathematics.

Participating students with disabilities were tested under standard conditions, or with accommodations permitted by NAEP. Virginia students whose Individualized Education Programs require testing accommodations that are not allowed under NAEP were excluded from 2005 testing. An NCES study of 2005 NAEP results concluded that the inclusion of these pupils would not have affected the average scores achieved by Virginia students.

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