Indiana’s 2013 NAEP gains similar to previous gains says School of Education researcher

Thursday, November 7, 2013

-- The U.S. Department of Education released results today for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Again, Indiana students showed gains, though they were not substantially different from past gains, according to analysis from an Indiana University School of Education professor who researches the NAEP exam results.

At Grade 4, Indiana’s mathematics score was 249, a 5-point improvement from the last assessment in 2011 and 8 points above the national average. Indiana’s Grade 4 reading score was 245, a 4-point gain from 2011 and 4 points above the national average.

The NAEP, also called "The Nation's Report Card," tests for academic achievement results detailing what the Department of education terms "progress on essential 21st-century skills."

“Relative to the 1-point gains in mathematics and reading for the nation as a whole, the 5- and 4-point gains for Indiana fourth-graders appear impressive,” said Peter Kloosterman, the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Chair for Teacher Education and a professor of mathematics education. “However, state samples are relatively small, and thus scores tend to fluctuate more than national scores. In 2000, Indiana was 9 points above the national average in math, but that dropped to 4 points above in 2007 and 2009 before going back to 9. In reading, Indiana has fluctuated from 2 to 5 points above the national average since 2000.”  

Kloosterman has kept track of Indiana NAEP results for many years and is in the midst of a project called "What Mathematics Do Students Know? Implications From NAEP for Curriculum and Policy." The project is a four-year study of NAEP data analyzing past and present student performance in mathematics, funded by a $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant.

The project uses data from the NAEP tests to examine what U.S. students know now compared to the past three decades. The study also measures how performance links to specific math curricula and courses students take in high school.

Regarding the latest Grade 8 results, Kloosterman said gains for Indiana students are comparable to recent years.

“Indiana is now 4 points above the national average in mathematics as compared to 2 points in 2011,” he said. “Since 2000, however, Indiana has been as high as 9 points above and as low as 2 points above. In reading, Indiana eighth-graders are now 1 point above the national average, the same as 2011 and within the window of 1 to 4 points above the national average for Indiana since 2000.”

Although Indiana remains above the national average, it is not in the top tier of U.S. students. “In brief, we see substantial gains in mathematics across the nation with fourth- and eighth-graders in 2013 achieving about two grade levels above their counterparts in 1990,” Kloosterman said. “There have been gains in reading at both levels, but they are much less than a grade level. Indiana is consistently above the national average, but not at the level of the highest-performing states. These trends have held throughout all the state and national education policy changes over this period.”