There is good news and not so good news in the summary report of the first online administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
In 2017, Tennessee students showed no statistically significant changes in either grade 4 or grade 8 reading or grade 8 math, but Tennessee was one of 10 states that saw a drop in scores in grade 4 math.
Nationally, scores were flat in all areas except for grade 8 reading, which saw an increase.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is given every two years to students in grade 4 and 8 in both reading and math. Long considered the “gold star” of large scale assessment, NAEP serves as a national benchmark for all states to determine what their students know and are able to do. Tennessee made historic progress in 2013 on NAEP, becoming the fastest-improving state in the country, and those scores have been largely stable through the 2015 and 2017 cycles.
“While Tennessee remains among the states that have made the most progress since 2011, our students are not yet performing at the high levels Tennesseans want,” said Jamie Woodson, executive chairman and CEO of the State Collaborative on Reforming Education, a nonpartisan, nonprofit public education advocacy group.
“The previous unprecedented gains Tennessee made on NAEP followed the introduction of far-reaching, student-focused policies eight years ago. That experience provides guidance as Tennessee enters a statewide leadership transition: Keep what’s working, be bold enough to innovate, and implement well in every school across Tennessee.”
This year’s results are the first time Tennessee’s scores on the NAEP exam align to TNReady scores, showing a similar percentage of students who are proficient in each grade and subject for 2017.
The scores were not broken out for local school districts, Williamson County Schools spokeswoman Carol Birdsong said.
But Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and Gov. Bill Haslam said the steady progress on the 2017 Nation’s Report Card, mirroring the national results, was a largely positive sign.
“These scores show that the investment we’ve made in our teachers and students is paying off, and because of their hard work in the classroom, Tennessee remains in the very top tier of all states in overall growth,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “We have raised the bar for K-12 education, and I am proud of how our teachers and students have stepped up to the challenge. Tennessee must continue to stay the course on higher standards, an aligned assessment, and appropriate accountability to provide our students continued growth and opportunity.”
“These results show that the progress we’ve made is real, but we need to rebuild our momentum,” McQueen said. “We’re proud of how hard our students and teachers are working, and we know that what we are doing is the right work to keep in place. We’ve had a number of transitions in the last two years, and as we help support educators dig deeply into those and target areas for improvement, I believe we’ll again see students make new strides forward.”
Tennesseans for Student Success, another advocacy group, had a similar take on the results:
“While today’s report does not show another dramatic rise in achievement, it does demonstrate sustainable, ongoing, and repeatable growth remains possible for every Tennessee classroom,” President and CEO Adam Lister said.
The NAEP math and reading exams have been administered since the early 1990s. Officials at the National Center for Education Statistics, which administers NAEP, have been doing the appropriate analysis and equating to maintain the trend line over time and ensure results are comparable to the prior paper-based assessments. More information about this transition to online and the NAEP exam can be found on their website.