Recently available scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed mixed results in district states on fourth and eighth grade assessments from 2011 to 2013 (see Chart 1).
In Minnesota, fourth graders made notable gains in both math and reading assessments. In fact, the remainder of assessments are rather sobering, declining a majority of the time across both reading and (especially) math for most district states, except Wisconsin, which saw test scores remain essentially level.
Minnesota now ranks among the nation’s higher scoring states in fourth grade math and reading. In fourth grade math, Minnesota’s average score is higher than 48 states and is tied, or within the margin of error, with two states. (See Charts 2 and 3, which show the number of states that have higher scores than the district state, lower scores and scores that fall within the margin of error and therefore are not considered statistically different.) Minnesota’s fourth grade math average scores consistently ranked in the nation’s top 10 highest-scoring states over the past 10 years; however, Minnesota’s fourth grade reading scores were more sporadic during this time. For example, in 2011, Minnesota’s fourth grade reading assessment reliably outscored only 15 other states, while in 2013, it outscored 30 other states.
Although assessment score rankings in other district states generally slid slightly from 2011 to 2013, district rankings were either close to the middle (ranking 25th) or higher in most categories. However, assessment score rankings were below the middle in South Dakota’s fourth grade scores, particularly so in reading.
The NAEP assessments are part of a congressionally authorized project within the U.S. Department of Education. The reading assessment measures reading comprehension by having students read selections and answer questions based on what they read. The mathematics assessment measures grade-appropriate knowledge and skills in number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and algebra.