Monday, February 2, 2009

Kentucky and national NAEP scores

We have work ahead to ensure that our students can perform above national average and be ready for global competition, but it is well past time for us to stop believing rumors that our children and our schools lag far behind their peers. The most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows Kentucky public school students to be:
  • Ahead of national average in fourth and eighth grade science.
  • Statistically tied with national average in fourth and eighth grade reading, fourth grade writing, and eighth grade mathematics.
  • Behind the nation in eighth grade writing and fourth grade mathematics.


  1. Susan,

    I’m afraid your graphs need some really big footnotes. Here is what all the 2007 NAEP report cards have to say about the sort of comparisons you conduct in the main blog item:

    “Variations in exclusion and accommodation rates, due to differences in policies and practices regarding the identification and inclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners, should be considered when comparing students’ performance over time and across states. While the effect of exclusion is not precisely known, comparisons of performance results could be affected if exclusion rates are comparatively high or vary widely over time.”

    Page 7, The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2007 (NCES 2007–494)

    In addition, on the same page you will find cautions that demographic changes can influence comparisons of NAEP results. This last issue is the most problematic of all.

    Can you tell us how these issues – exclusion, accommodation, and changing demographics – impact the interpretation of the scores you present? Does the closure of our overall student scores with the national averages indicate that Kentucky really made gains, or is this mostly evidence that other factors conspire to hide progress in other states?

    I plan to write about pitfalls in NAEP interpretation in the next day or two over at the Bluegrass Policy blog ( You and your readers may find the information very interesting. Key legislative leaders already have.

  2. Over the last decade, I have been best known for my work to spotlight achievement gaps and to call attention to high poverty, high performance schools. The first was directly about weaknesses, and the second designed to strip away family income as an excuse for weakness. I'm also on record, under oath, on my judgment that our schools are not delivering results strong enough to meet the requirements of our state constitution. I see both strengths and weaknesses in Kentucky public school results.

    I am perplexed, however, that you seem to see only weakness. I can't find data that justifies your seeming certainty that our public schools are simply failure upon failure.

    I see a more mixed picture, and I plan to go on discussing both the good and the bad I see for the rest of my life.

  3. If your agenda is to eliminate public education, then only seeing the weaknesses and ignoring the progress is a logical strategy. Many of us understand and appreciate the important role of public education historically in our progress as a country and we continue to strive to improve the quality so all children can learn and prosper in their adult lives.


Updates and data on Kentucky education!