September 25, 2007
Director of Communications
(804) 3712420
Julie Grimes
Public Information Officer
(804) 2252775
AfricanAmerican Students Narrow Achievement Gap in Reading
Results from the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that the reading and mathematics skills of Virginia students continue to improve and that the commonwealth's students remain among the nation's highest achievers in these subjects.
Average achievement for Virginia fourth and eighthgrade students in reading and mathematics on the 2007 tests was significantly higher than that of students nationwide and in the South. Students in only two states performed at what the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) considers a statistically higher level on the fourthgrade reading test, and students in only five states achieved at a higher level on the eighthgrade reading test. The performance of Virginia's fourth graders was especially noteworthy as overall achievement increased in both reading and mathematics.
In no state did AfricanAmerican fourth and eighth graders perform at a statistically higher level in reading and mathematics than black students in Virginia. Black fourth graders in Virginia also narrowed the achievement gap with white students in reading by six points. For the first time since the NAEP began in the early 1990s, a majority – 60 percent – of black fourth graders demonstrated reading proficiency at or above the Basic level. Virginia also was the only state where black students improved their performance in mathematics at both grade levels from 2005 to 2007.
"More students are joining their peers on the journey from competence to excellence, and this is producing a dramatic shift in NAEP proficiency levels," said Governor Timothy M. Kaine. "This progress shows that the commonwealth's public schools are responsive and accountable."
"This is a watershed year for Virginia's public schools," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. "Because of the efforts of thousands of teachers and other educators – and the commonwealth's commitment to the Standards of Learning – students who traditionally have lagged behind are now achieving at higher levels."
Reading Skills of Virginia Students Improve
The commonwealth's fourthgrade students achieved an average score of 227 on the reading test, a onepoint improvement over 2005 and a statistically significant fourpoint increase over 2003. Virginia's average fourthgrade score for 2007 was significantly higher than the average score for students in the nation of 220 and the average score of students in the South of 219.
"Our challenge is to build on this success and make sure that students continue to improve their reading skills as they move from elementary to middle and high school," said Board of Education President Mark Emblidge.
The percentage of Virginia fourthgrade students reading at or above the NAEP Proficient level increased by one point in 2007, to 38 percent. Since 1998, the percentage of fourth graders meeting this rigorous standard has risen by a statistically significant 8 points.
The percentage of Virginia fourthgrade students reading at the Basic level or above has increased significantly since the 2003 administration of the NAEP. Seventyfour percent of Virginia fourthgrade students performed at or above the Basic level on the 2007 reading test, compared with 69 percent in 2003 and 62 percent in 1998.
Reading 19942007: Grade 4
Group 
1994 
1998 
2002 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
213 
217 
225 
223 
226 
227 
South 



215 
217 
219 
Nation 
212 
213 
217 
216 
217 
220 
Virginia eighthgrade students achieved an average reading score of 267, which was 6 points higher than the national average of 261 and 7 points higher than the average score of 260 for students in the South. Virginia's 2007 average grade8 reading score was one point lower than the average score for 2005, a difference not considered statistically significant.
Reading 19982007: Grade 8
Group 
1998 
2002 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
266 
269 
268 
268 
267 
South 


259 
258 
260 
Nation 
261 
263 
261 
260 
261 
Seventynine percent of the commonwealth's eighth graders performed at or above Basic level on the reading test, which represented a onepoint increase from the 2005 administration. Thirtyfour percent of the grade8 students tested performed at the Proficient level or above in 2007, which was little changed from the 36 percent achieving at or above the Proficient level on the 2005 test.
Significant Gains in Mathematics in Both Grades
The achievement of Virginia students in mathematics improved significantly at both grade levels on the 2007 NAEP. The average mathematics score of Virginia fourth graders was 244, a significant fourpoint increase over the 2005 average of 240 and 21 points higher than the average of 223 in 1996. The average mathematics score for Virginia students in grade 8 increased by a statistically significant four points in 2007 to 288 — 8 points higher than the national average of 280 and 9 points higher than the average score for the South of 279.
"Student achievement on the 2007 NAEP mirrors the improved performance of students on our elementary and middle school SOL mathematics tests and reflects the hard work of thousands of mathematics teachers," said Dr. Cannaday.
Virginia's 2007 average gradefour score in mathematics was five points higher than the average score of 239 for the South and the nation. Eightyseven percent of Virginia students in grade 4 achieved at or above the Basic level on the 2007 mathematics test, which was a significant fourpoint improvement over 2005. The percentage of fourth graders scoring below Basic in mathematics test has fallen 25 points since 1996, from 38 percent to 13 percent.
The percentage of students in grade 4 who scored at the Proficient level or above increased 3 points, from 39 percent in 2005, to 42 percent in 2007. Proficiency in mathematics in grade four has increased by a statistically significant six points since 2003 and by 23 points since 1996.
Mathematics 19962007: Grade 4
Group 
1996 
2000 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
223 
230 
239 
240 
244 
South 


233 
237 
239 
Nation 
222 
224 
234 
237 
239 
Since 1996, average achievement of Virginia students on the eighthgrade mathematics test has increased by 18 points. Significantly higher percentages of Virginia students are now performing at or above the Basic and Proficient levels in grade8 mathematics. Thirtyseven of the Virginia eighth graders performed at or above the Proficient level, compared with 33 percent in 2005, 31 percent in 2003 and 21 percent in 1996. The percentage performing at the Basic level or above in eighth grade mathematics increased to 77 percent in 2007, compared with 75 percent in 2005, 72 percent in 2003 and 58 percent in 1996.
Mathematics 19962007: Grade 8
Group 
1996 
2000 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
270 
275 
282 
284 
288 
South 


274 
276 
279 
Nation 
271 
272 
276 
278 
280 
AfricanAmerican Students Narrow Gap in Reading
Black fourth graders in the commonwealth raised their average score in reading by six points to 213, compared with 207 in 2005. This statistically significant increase reduced the achievement gap between white and black students in fourthgrade reading by six points. Since 1998, the average grade4 reading score of black students in Virginia has risen 14 points.
The 2007 NAEP marked the first time a majority of black students in Virginia performed at or above the Basic level in fourthgrade reading. Sixty percent of black fourth graders achieved at the Basic level or above, compared with 49 percent in 2005. The percentage of black fourth graders reading below the Basic level declined 11points, from 51 percent in 2005 to 40 percent in 2007. The percentage of AfricanAmerican students in the commonwealth performing at or above the Proficient level increased four points, to 19 percent.
Reading 19982007: Grade 4Blacks
Group 
1998 
2002 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
199 
205 
206 
207 
213 
South 


197 
199 
203 
Nation 
192 
198 
197 
199 
203 
Black students in Virginia achieved an average score of 252 in eighthgrade reading, which represented little change from 2005's average of 251. Sixty four percent of black eighth graders achieved at or above the Basic level, compared with 63 percent in 2005. The percentage performing at or above the Proficient level was unchanged at 16 percent.
Reading 19982007: Grade 8Blacks
Group 
1998 
2002 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
250 
252 
250 
251 
252 
South 


243 
242 
244 
Nation 
242 
244 
244 
242 
244 
AfricanAmerican students in Virginia continued to outperform their peers nationwide in reading at both grade levels with average scores ten points higher than the national average in grade four and eight points higher in grade eight. Only black eighth graders in Department of Defense schools performed at a higher level in reading.
Virginia Only State Where Black Students Gain in Math in Both Grades
Black students in Virginia achieved an average score of 228 in fourthgrade mathematics, which was four points higher than 2005. Since 1996, the average grade4 mathematics score of black students in Virginia has risen by 25 points. The percentage of AfricanAmerican fourth graders achieving at or above the Basic level rose by a significant seven points to 73 percent while the percentage performing below Basic declined by seven points, from 34 percent in 2005, to 27 percent in 2007.
Mathematics 19962007: Grade 4Blacks
Group 
1996 
2000 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
203 
211 
223 
224 
228 
South 


217 
221 
222 
Nation 
199 
203 
216 
220 
222 
The average score for black students on the eighthgrade mathematics test was 268, which represented a significant fivepoint increase in performance. The percentage of AfricanAmerican eighth graders achieving at or above the Basic level increased four points to 56 percent, and the percentage meeting or exceeding the Proficient standard increased by a statistically significant six points to 15 percent.
Mathematics 19962007: Grade 8Blacks
Group 
1996 
2000 
2003 
2005 
2007 
Virginia 
244 
253 
262 
263 
268 
South 


252 
255 
261 
Nation 
241 
243 
252 
254 
259 
AfricanAmerican students in Virginia continued to outperform their peers nationwide in mathematics at both grade levels with average scores six points higher than the national average in grade four and nine points higher in grade eight. Virginia was the only state where black students improved their performance in mathematics at both grade levels from 2005 to 2007.
Hispanic Students Outperform Peers Nationwide in Reading and Math
The average grade4 reading score for Hispanic students in Virginia in 2007 was 216, compared with 218 in 2005. The average score of Hispanic eighth graders declined 1 point, from 259 in 2005, to 258 in 2007. Hispanic achievement in Virginia in both grades 4 and 8 was 12 points higher than the national averages.
Hispanic fourth graders achieved an average mathematics score of 235 on the 2007 NAEP, which was 8 points higher the average score of their peers nationwide. The average score of Hispanic grade8 students was 275, a 5point improvement over 2005, and 9 points higher than the national average of 264. Given the small number of Virginia's Hispanic test takers, NCES does not regard yeartoyear changes in the average scores of Hispanic students in the commonwealth as statistically significant.
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 2007 NAEP sampling of Virginia students included approximately 7,000 fourthgrade students from 114 elementary schools and 5,400 eighth graders from 108 middle schools.