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Iowa’s NAEP results show some gains, need for improvement

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Date: 
Thursday, November 7, 2013

Iowa’s student results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress show some gains in math and reading since 2011, but stagnation over the long term remains a challenge statewide.

“We see some bright spots in today’s results, but they largely underscore the need to continue pushing forward with our education priorities,” Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck said.

Iowa has participated in NAEP assessments since they were first administered in 1990. Today’s NAEP results cover math and reading for grades 4 and 8. Iowa’s results show small growth from 2011 in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and fourth-grade math. The long-term trend remains flat in reading at both grade levels, with small growth in math.

The results also show no single demographic group stands out for Iowa’s relative stagnation. White students, who make up 81 percent of Iowa’s student population, are behind their white peers nationally across all tested grade levels and subject areas.

Significant gaps in achievement also remain for black and Hispanic students, students who do not speak English as their native language, students from low-income backgrounds and students with disabilities.

Findings from today’s 2013 NAEP results include:

  • In fourth-grade reading, the gap in achievement between students in Iowa with and without disabilities is the worst in the nation.
  • The gap in achievement has narrowed for Iowa’s Hispanic students across the board. Hispanic students also outperformed their national counterparts in fourth-grade reading and math.
  • The gap in achievement for Iowa students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals has widened in every area except eighth-grade math, which has not changed significantly over the long term.
  • The nation outperformed Iowa’s white students in both grade levels and subject areas.

Overall results show:

  • Iowa’s average reading score for fourth-grade students (224) is higher than the state’s score in 2011 (221) but is not significantly different from the state’s score in 1992 (225). Iowa’s average score is higher than that of the nation’s public schools (221).
  • Iowa’s average reading score for eighth-grade students (269) is higher than that of 2011 (265) but is not significantly different from that of 2003 (268). Iowa’s average score is higher than that of the nation’s public schools (266).
  • Iowa’s average math score for fourth-grade students (246) is higher than that of 2011 (243) and higher than that of 1992 (230). Iowa’s average score is higher than that of nation’s public schools (241).
  • Iowa’s average math score for eighth-grade students (285) is not significantly different from that of 2011 (285) and higher than that of 1990 (278). Iowa’s average score is not significantly different from that of nation’s public schools (284).

Buck said Iowa has charted the right path with recent state efforts to support and strengthen teaching, raise standards and expectations, and work to improve literacy. These efforts include:

  • The teacher leadership and compensation system, which was the centerpiece of landmark education reform passed by the 2013 Iowa Legislature. The effort better utilizes the expertise of top teachers to improve classroom instruction and to raise student achievement.
  • Implementation of the Iowa Core in schools statewide and adapting the state’s system of assessments. The Iowa Core represents the state’s standards and expectations for what students should know and be able to do in kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Iowa’s education system is working together to put in place Response to Intervention, a proven, evidence-based practice to help schools identify, and intervene with, all readers early on and to customize instruction to fit their needs.

“We must keep moving in this direction as a state,” Buck said. “We must ensure that all students are prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and career training. The quality of Iowa’s workforce, and our quality of life, depends on it.”

About NAEP: NAEP, known as the nation’s report card, is the only state-by-state comparison of student progress. Assessments are administered to a sampling of students periodically in math, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography and U.S. history. Assessments on NAEP are administered to about 3,000 students in 100 schools in Iowa and other states for each grade and subject – a large enough sample to draw valid inferences about Iowa’s population in comparison to other states.

For more information about NAEP, visit http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 19, 2014 at 6:54pm.