Arkansas NAEP Test Scores

Did we win the Olympic Gold Medal on the NAEP, or did we Bomb It? You Decide!

Excerpts from article below written October 28, 05

 

Only nine states scored lower than Arkansas on the 8th Grade Math NAEP Test in 2005 …On our so called rigorous Arkansas homegrown benchmark tests, a student on the Arkansas 8th grade math who scores only 39  points out of  80 points (less than 50%) is considered Proficient.  The percentages for other grades in the four levels  are quite similar.  That will be the subject of my next email.    

 

 

            Keep in mind as you read the material and charts below that in 1986 through 1991, Arkansas 5th grade students scored above the 65th percentile for six straight years on a national test.  That means that Arkansas students in 5th grade  were scoring better than 65% of the students in the nation on a nationally normed test.  In 1984, even before the accountability system was put in place,  5th grade students scored 61 percentile on the nationally normed  SRA test.   The old accountability system tested 5th and 7th graders rather than 4th and 8th.  See 20 year comparison table at end of this email or this link:

 http://www.wpaag.org/SAT%20Test%20from%201984-2003%20Table%20&%20Money%20Spent.htm

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Compare the following “spin” quotes  to the “Facts Omitted”  on the recently released scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores for Arkansas.  Then decide if we won the Olympics like the newspapers portrayed it through the use of “spin” or if we bombed it based on facts omitted from the reports. If you spend about 40 hours on the complex test results, you might  find the truth. All documentation is given below which will enable you to find the real truth fairly quickly.

 

Spin vs. Facts

 

Spin

            “Arkansas students are performing just as well as their counterparts nationwide, according to test results released Wednesday. . .State education officials heralded the results at a morning news conference in a room decorated with balloons.”  AR News Bureau Oct 20, 05

 

Facts Omitted

            Only nine states scored lower than Arkansas on the 8th Grade Math NAEP Test in 2005.  Thirty-eight states scored higher than did Arkansas and two the same.    (Back in  1989-91 7th graders were scoring  60 percentile or better on nationally normed test.) 7th grade was used instead of 8th grade under older accountability system.  (Analogy:  If  I did better than only 9 other teachers out of 50 in my school, on my students’ test scores I would be crying rather than rejoicing and celebrating with balloons.) See NAEP website: http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0021.asp?tab_id=tab2&subtab_id=Tab_1&printver=#chart

 

 Further, the gap between the scores of the blacks and the whites on the on the current  NAEP  8th grade math and 4th Grade Reading Test than in  1992 and did not improve in any other grade or  subject.  Narrowing the gap between minorities is supposed to be one of the major concerns of the educational reforms, and after 10 years there is no improvement in this area.  

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/stt2005/2006454AR8.pdf and

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/stt2005/2006452AR4.pdf

 

Spin

 

            “Ken James , Arkansas education commissioner…used phrases such as ‘steady growth’ and  ‘phenomenal progress’ in describing aspects of the Arkansas results. ADG Oct 20, 05.  James was also  quoted as saying, “We’re beginning to see the payoff of staff development in the early grades.” AR News Bureau, Oct. 20, 05.

 

(Keep in mind that scores  were released for four different NAEP  tests:  8th Grade Math, 8th grade Reading, 4th  Grade Math, and 4th Grade Reading)

 

Facts Omitted

 

Only sixteen states scored lower than Arkansas on the 4th Grade Reading NAEP Test in 2005.  Thirty-one states scored higher than Arkansas and three the same.  Teachers will gladly give Ken James, ADE Director, credit for these NAEP test results because in 1986-1991 early grades (5th grade rather than 4th on old accountability system) were scoring above the 65th  percentile on nationally normed tests for 6 years in a row – before all that wonderful  staff development kicked in.  .    It should be pointed out that the national average on  the NAEP 4th grade reading test has improved only 2 points in 13 years. (217 to 219 from 1992 to 2005)  after all the hundreds of millions of dollars  invested in education in the nation.  So there has been no significant  improvement in Reading in Arkansas either and Reading is the key to Everything in education. http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0006.asp?tab_id=tab1&subtab_id=Tab_1&printver=#chart

http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0003.asp?printver

 

Spin

 

“This National Assessment of Educational Progress is the real deal. It’s given in all 50 states. And it allows states to compare their kids against other students around the country…Good old, down-home, naturally wonderful Arkansas ! We couldn’t have been more proud. See what hard work can get you ? Yep, unlike the rest of the nation, this is what happens when you put your nose to the grinds to—Okay, okay. Enough with the homerism. But you see where we’re going. Of the three states that made gains in three categories, Arkansas was right up there with Texas and Massachusetts, two states that always seem to be Doing Things Right when it comes to education…These were “significant” increases, according to the U. S. Department of Education. And Arkansas is either (1 ) “at,” or (2 ) darn near “at” the national averages in all four NAEP categories.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette Editorial Oct 23, 05

 

Facts Omitted

            Only twelve states scored lower than Arkansas on the 8th Grade Reading  NAEP Test in  2005.  Thirty-five states scored higher and two the same as Arkansas.  It should be pointed out that the national average on  the NAEP 8th grade reading test has improved only 2 points in 13 years (from 260 to 262 from 1992 to 2005,) after all the hundreds of millions of dollars  invested in education in the nation.)  So Arkansas has shown no significant  improvement in Reading either. If students don’t do well in reading, it affects EVERYTHING else in education. http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0006.asp?tab_id=tab2&subtab_id=Tab_1&printver=#chart

http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0003.asp?tab_id=tab2&subtab_id=Tab_1&printver=#chart

 

 

Spin

“Here’s how our told-ya-so governor responded to the very encouraging news that our kids are steadily improving on national tests : We continue to get truly encouraging progress reports on significant and nationally noteworthy gains in education from almost every study or review…Maybe the ever-growing volume of credible and documented progress will overshadow the short-sighted, superintendent-driven lawsuit as the court looks at real evidence”   ADG editorial Oct 23, 05.  

Facts Omitted

Only 18  states scored lower than Arkansas on the 4th Grade NAEP Math  Test.  Thirty-two states scored better than Arkansas and one the same. Math is the first test really pushed in Arkansas, and all kinds of programs, grants  and math specialists  have been put in place to improve the scores http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/s0021.asp?printver=

 

Spin

State Board of Education  member Randy Lawson of Bentonville was quoted as saying, “It’s a very positive step of progress for Arkansas,” The same newspaper said, “State Education Board chairwoman Jeanna Westmoreland of Arkadelphia and board member Sherry Burrow of Jonesboro echoed one another that NAEP scores are proof Arkansas is ‘headed in the right direction.’  Burrow said tougher accountability measures resulting from the Omnibus Education Act had some effect on NAEP results. Both she and Westmoreland said Arkansas’ proximity to the national averages make the state more attractive to business and industry. . .Sen. Jimmy Jeffress, D-Crossett, and Rep. Betty Pickett, D-Conway, the NAE results are a product of greater scrutiny of school districts.” Arkansas News Bureau Oct. 20, 05 by Aaron Sadler

 

Facts Omitted

No one seems to want to look at the history of testing in Arkansas as seen in this chart below that compares Arkansas to Arkansas scores for 20 years.  Those scores were also nationally compared.  It is incredible to me that we have become like the Russians.  The Russians would set production quotas that they intended to meet in their five-year plans.  And no matter how high they set the quotas, they always supposedly met them.  Yet the Russian people (except for the government officials) became hungrier and hungrier.  This is a very apt comparison to our test scores.  With the help of the media, the Department of Education always meets their goals and always excels, but our children are being deprived of the best education while we are preparing them to pass a government test that can be manipulated.

 

 By the way I, like many others, am not at all impressed with the NAEP test.  I don’t think it is an accurate measure of what students know or of how well Arkansas students and teachers are doing.  No one test can ever indicate the knowledge and abilities of a child.  But neither should results of a test be used to deceive the citizens of Arkansas.  I personally think teachers and students are doing fantastic given all the hoops they have to jump through and the poverty with which they have to deal.  And we would still be doing better if the government would leave them alone.

 

   I have repeatedly said that when you have government accountability, there is no accountability.  The government, with the help of the media, will spin all the information just like they have on this test.  Then  the people can’t really prove their case even though they know it in their heart, just like the Russians’ hunger told them their government was lying about the production quotas.  

 

 Note how the following quote shows many people in Arkansas understand this truth.  “The survey of 600 Arkansans by the Survey Research Center at the University of Arkansas showed …74 percent said a single test would not provide a fair picture of a school and that… In regard to education reforms enacted recently by the Legislature and governor, 60 percent of the survey respondents predicted that education achievement would either decline or stay the same Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said they would prefer that additional efforts be made at an identified school rather than have children transfer elsewhere [consolidation]” ADG April 30, 04 by Cynthia Howell. In other words 85% would oppose consolidation for their own children.

 

Before studying the chart below, note that Representative Betty Pickett, former member of the education board  was quoted in one of the articles. “We have a very rigorous curriculum,” said Picket, a former member of the education board.  “The (state) benchmark has been a rigorous exam and we’ve not backed off that.  Because  we’ve not backed off  from it and we’ve expected a lot from our teachers and students, this is a result of that.”

 

 I know that the ADE  would say the benchmark tests are better tests than the nationally normed tests.  That will be the subject of my next email.  For a starter, keep in mind that on these rigorous Arkansas benchmark tests, a student on the Arkansas 8th grade math who scores only 39  points out of  80 points (less than 50%) is considered Proficient. Proficient  is one  of the four  NAEP (as well as our Arkansas benchmark) achievement levels, representing solid academic performance at grade level and would pretty much correspond to a B in traditional grading.  ADE requires that teachers  give students with anything less than a 60% an F, not a B.

 

You won’t find a chart like the one below coming from the Arkansas Department of Education.  It would be too transparent!  But the data came piecemeal directly from the ADE and has been checked and rechecked (even through phone calls)  to insure its accuracy.  It took many, many hours to put it together.  These scores were the result of mandatory accountability legislation for 5th, 7th, & 10th Grade Students.

           

Year

5th Grade

7th Grade

10th Grade

2003 SAT-9  Spring

57%

57%

48%

2002  No Test

No Test This Year

No Test This Year

No Test This Year

 2001 SAT-9 Fall

51%

51%

49%

2000 SAT-9 Fall

50%

50%

48

1999 SAT-9 Fall

48%

49%

47%

1998  SAT-9Fall

47%

48%

47%

1997 SAT-9 Fall

47%

48%

47%

1996 SAT-9 Fall

46%

47%

46%

1995 SAT-9 ? Fall

55%

54%

52%

1995  Spring SAT-8

50%

50%

49%

1994 Spring SAT-8

52%

51%

50%

1993  Spring SAT-8

51%

49%

52%

1992 SAT-8 Spring

52

51

49

1991 MAT 6 Spring

65

60

57

1990 MAT 6 Spring

67

61

58

1989 MAT 6 Spring

67

60

56

1988 MAT-6 Spring

66

59

55

1987 MAT 6 Spring

66

58

54

1986 MAT6 Spring

66

58

54

1985 MAT 6 Spring

64

54

53

1984 SRA Spring

61

57

51

 

Notes: 

 

  I don’t mean to imply that everyone quoted below intended to spin the results.  Some of them just took the facts that were given them and made comments on them.   I would prefer not to use names, but it is the only way to show how deceiving test scores can be.

 

On the data on the NAEP website there was a little inconsistency in the number of states scoring lower and higher than Arkansas on the long charts of state comparisons and their summaries, but not enough to be significantly different, like a couple of states at one place or another.  I included only states in my comparisons above.  The NAEP also included two other jurisdictions, D.C. and one other.  That may account for the differences.