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Crystal Greene, 503-947-5650

November 7, 2013

Oregon Student Performance Increases Slightly on NAEP

Oregon students perform at or above the national average in 4th and 8th grade reading and math

(Salem, Ore.) –
Today Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton announced the release of Oregon’s results on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, is administered to representative samples of students in the U.S. and provides a means of comparing student achievement across states. In 2013, the tests were administered in reading and math at the 4th and 8th grades, and Oregon’s overall results were solidly middle of the pack for three of four areas tested. However, Oregon 8th graders made gains in reading performance that bumped their results up to above the national public school average last year. The average score for Oregon students was actually higher in all four areas than it was in 2011, but only in 8th grade reading was this increase statistically significant.

“In September we released state test results that painted a somewhat complex picture of student performance,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “Despite a drop in the percent of students meeting state standards, our students’ average scores were holding steady or even increasing, indicating that the drop was a result of changing testing practice and not a decrease in student learning. Today’s NAEP results further support this idea. Our students compared better nationally and I am particularly pleased by our 8th grader’s reading gains. While I would love to see our students performing above the national average in all areas tested, this is movement in the right direction.”

The last time students were tested in reading and math on the NAEP was in 2011. In 2011, Oregon 8th grade students performed at the national average and Oregon 4th grade students performed slightly below the national average. In 2013, Oregon students performed at or above the national average in both grades and subjects.

A Closer Look at the Numbers
Oregon’s 4th graders performed at the national average in both reading and math. In math, Oregon’s average 4th grade score was 240, up from 237 in 2011. This increase is not considered statistically significant. The national average score for 4th grade math was 241 in 2013. In reading, Oregon 4th graders had an average score of 219, up from 216 in 2011. Again, this increase is not statistically significant nor was the score statistically different from the national average score of 221.

Oregon’s 8th graders performed at the national average in math with a score of 284. This is up one point from 2011 and is exactly the same as the national average score. The only area with a statistically significant increase was 8th grade reading. Here the average score rose from 264 in 2011 to 268 in 2013. This is statistically higher than the national average score of 266.

However, despite having overall performance at or above the national average, some areas of real concern emerge as you dig into student subgroup data, particularly for 4th graders. Oregon’s low income Hispanic and White 4th graders performed below their peers nationally in both reading and math. These results underscore the importance of Oregon’s strategic initiative on early literacy so that students leave third grade reading to learn.

NAEP and the Move to the Common Core
NAEP results can help provide an early indication of how Oregon students may perform when assessed on the new Common Core State Standards. Students around Oregon are now receiving instruction aligned to these new learning standards, and starting in 2015, Oregon will begin using the Smarter Balanced Assessment to test student’ mastery of the Common Core. Like Smarter Balanced, NAEP is a more rigorous assessment than Oregon’s current state test and includes test items that require students to explain and justify their work. Early analysis indicates that the percent of students performing at the NAEP proficient level or above may roughly correlate to the percent of students who will meet the more challenging expectations of the Common Core. In Oregon, 40% of 4th grade students were at or above the NAEP proficient level in math in 2013, 33% in reading. For 8th graders 34% met the proficient or above threshold in math, 37% in reading.

“As we prepare for the transition to the Common Core and the new Smarter Balanced Assessment, I want everyone to be prepared for a dramatic shift in test results,” said Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton. “For the first time in our state’s history we are setting targets that truly align with college and career ready outcomes for our kids. We want to understand what students should know and be able to do at every step along the way so that they ultimately graduate high school fully prepared for future success. Initially we will see fewer students meeting these higher expectations. But this does not mean our students know less or are doing worse in school. It simply means that we have a more accurate, honest picture about where our students are and the work that remains to get them fully prepared.”

NAEP TIMSS Linking Study
NAEP results provide the opportunity to compare Oregon students’ performance to peers around the country. However, thanks to a recently released study, we can now also use NAEP results to see how Oregon students compare to students around the globe. The National Center for Education Statistics conducted a study linking 2011 NAEP results to results on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). TIMSS is an internationally administered math and science test taken by 38 countries around the world. Results of this linking study were released October 24 and showed how Oregon 8th graders compared in math and science.

Based on this linking study, Oregon students perform on par with students in countries such as Finland and Israel in 8th grade math. In science, Oregon 8th graders outperformed the U.S. national average and scored similarly to students in Hong Kong and England. While Oregon students performed well below countries such as Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, the linking study provides a more nuanced picture of international competitiveness than other reports.

“NAEP results provide us with information about how our students compare with their peers around the country, and this new linking study allows us to gauge how well our students compare internationally, said Deputy Superintendent Saxton. “This is critical information as we work to prepare our students to compete not just here in Oregon but around the country and around the world. Right now Oregon students are about middle of the pack. The education reform efforts currently underway in our state to improve and streamline our education system are designed to shift that and give our kids more of a competitive edge.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has administered state and national assessments in math and reading since 1990. To learn more about NAEP or the NAEP-TIMSS linking study, click here. For more on NAEP in Oregon, including and FAQ, click here.

To access the national & Oregon results for NAEP 2013 math and reading, please visit: http://nationsreportcard.gov/.

Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction
Crystal Greene, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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