LEXINGTON, Ky. – The latest results from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, released today, show Kentucky’s students performing above national averages in fourth and eighth grade reading and in line with national averages in fourth grade mathematics, with eighth grade mathematics slightly below national performance.
The fourth grade reading results are especially exciting, showing statistically significant improvement in our scores for students overall, for students with disabilities, and for students eligible for free or reduced price meals. (African American and Hispanic fourth graders also have improved scores, though the changes were not statistically significant.) Kentucky now ranks 8th across the states in fourth grade reading, up from 17th in 2013 and 26th in 2007.
Overall, the results confirm that Kentucky’s students are doing work in line with national performance, but are still facing the urgent challenge of moving to the higher levels they will need for full participation in postsecondary education, our economy and our communities.
As Kentuckians, we can also take a moment of pride in seeing key groups of students doing better than similar students nationwide in:
- Fourth grade reading for students with disabilities, students eligible for free or reduced price lunch, African American students, and Hispanic students
- Fourth grade mathematics for students with disabilities and students eligible for free or reduced price meals
- Eighth grade reading results for students eligible for free or reduced price meals.
After noting that good news, however, there are important problems that need our attention:
- A decline in eighth grade mathematics results for all students must be reversed
- A lack of significant progress in fourth grade mathematics and eighth grade reading does not match our commitment to substantial improvement in our statewide performance
- Our students with disabilities, low-income students, and students of color are still not receiving the full benefits of an equal education, creating gaps that persist over time and risks lasting damage to Kentucky’s prosperity.
The Kentucky Board of Education has already added important new efforts to reduce novice performance in all groups of students that are furthest from meeting state standards, signaling that it is time for deeper, more sustained work to end these gaps. To support renewed and expanding work on increasing achievement and closing gaps, a Prichard Committee study group is working through the fall to analyze data, scholarship, policy and first-hand accounts of current work in our schools, aiming to share analysis and recommendations at the beginning of 2016.
For Kentucky to flourish, we need for students of every background to reach their potential and join in building a strong, shared future. In fourth grade reading, this year shows progress worth celebrating, shared by students of many backgrounds. We need matching progress in all subjects, with special attention reversing the eighth grade mathematics decline. Our goal must be for all Kentucky students to graduate from high school truly ready for adult success, making important progress toward that goal in each year of school.
The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence is an independent, non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group. Since 1983, the Committee, made up of volunteer parents and citizens from across Kentucky, has worked tirelessly to improve education for Kentuckians of all ages.