State Test Scores in Reading and Mathematics Continue
To Increase, Achievement Gaps Narrow
Positive Trends in State Test Scores Seen Since 2002
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2008 – Student scores on state tests of reading and
mathematics have risen since 2002, and achievement gaps between various groups of students
have narrowed more often than they have widened, according to the most comprehensive and
rigorous recent analysis of state test scores. These improvements have occurred during a
period when the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), state education reforms, and local school
improvement efforts have focused on raising test scores and narrowing achievement gaps.
The report, Has Student Achievement Increased Since 2002?: State Test Score Trends
Through 2006-07, was released today by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy (CEP). It
analyzes state test data from all 50 states as well as trends through 2007 on the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the only federally administered assessment of
reading and math achievement. While expanding on a similar report from last year, this study
continues the focus on two main questions: whether reading and math achievement has
increased since 2002 and whether achievement gaps between subgroups of students have
narrowed. The number of states included varies depending on the type of trend being reported.
CEP excluded state data from years that should not be compared because a state introduced a
new test, changed the passing score on its test, or made other major test changes. CEP also
looked at two indicators of achievement on state tests – the percentage of students scoring at or
above the “proficient” level and a statistic called “effect size,” which avoids some limitations of
The report includes an analysis of many of the differences between state test scores and NAEP scores.