State Supt. Janet Barresi Says NAEP Scores Show Need for Reform


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, released Tuesday, highlight the need for reforms in literacy and math education.

NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, shows that 73 percent of fourth and eighth graders in Oklahoma are below proficient in reading and 66 percent of fourth graders and 72 percent of eighth graders are below proficient in math.

“This is all the more reason to redouble our efforts and work quickly to implement our recently approved reforms,” Barresi said. “This also is all the more reason for us to focus on intervention for children in the earliest grades. We want to make sure we are implementing strategies so each child can cross the finish line.”

Barresi said the overall results are troubling, though there are signs of hope.

“This shows we are not making the gains we would like in closing the achievement gaps,” She said. “The only way to close those is to put an emphasis on literacy and STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.”

In Oklahoma, average math scores in grade four were 237 vs. 240 for the nation, and in grade eight were 279 in the state and 283 in the nation.  In Reading, average scores were 215 in grade four in Oklahoma versus 220 for the nation, and 260 in grade eight vs. 264 for the nation.

In reading, the numbers have stayed flat for the past four years, similar to the national picture. While they’re not worse, Barresi said it still shows that what we’ve tried in the past is not working. She said reforms passed this year, including third-grade graduation and more than $6 million being spent on reading sufficiency programs should help improve those scores in the future.

In math, the numbers are more hopeful. Oklahoma is one of only 13 states that showed a statistically significant gain over 2009 scores in the number of students scoring proficient this year. That number has more than doubled in the state since 2000. Overall, national math scores are inching up as well.The state’s American Indian students also show increased proficiency in math and reading scores and are outperforming American Indian students throughout the nation. In fourth-grade math, for instance, Oklahoma American Indian students had an average score of 234 vs. 227 for the nation; 29 percent of Oklahoma American Indian students scored above proficient, vs. 24 percent for the nation. In fourth-grade reading, 25 percent of Oklahoma American Indian students scored above proficient, vs. 19 percent for the nation.

Oklahoma shows a low inclusion rate for special education students and English Language Learners, however. In Oklahoma fourth-grade math, for example, only 49 percent of special education students were tested vs. 84 percent in the nation.

“We must look closely at testing for children with special needs,” Barresi said, “to assure that each child receives the best education based on their individual need and to make sure districts are held accountable for the growth in skills and knowledge for this special population.”

NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. It is put together by the National Center for Education Statistics.

NAEP typically tests about 3,000 students in about 100 schools in each state for each grade and subject.. Schools are selected for participation based on characteristics such as school location, minority enrollment, level of school achievement and average income of the geographic area. Within each selected school, students are selected at random to participate.  Students do not take the entire test, only a block.

To see the full Nation’s Report Card, go to http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/current.asp.

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Last updated on December 13, 2011