Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Comments
on Latest NAEP Reading Results
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today commented on the release of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading results for participating fourth and eighth graders.
The 2009 NAEP results for California show no significant change in overall scores from the 2007 assessment, which was the last time NAEP tested students in the fourth and eighth grades in reading. Nationally, the results are similar, with overall scores holding steady at the fourth grade level and a slight improvement in the eighth grade.
Overall average scores for students at both the state and the national level remain at the NAEP "basic" achievement level, which denotes partial mastery of fundamental skills at each grade. While reading scores for both fourth and eighth grade students remains flat overall, the average reading score for California's grade eight African American students improved slightly, moving the subgroup from "below basic" to the NAEP "basic" achievement level. Unfortunately, the NAEP reading results reveal no narrowing of the achievement gap between students who are white or Asian students and their peers who are African American or Latino.
"While we have seen a slight narrowing of the achievement gap on our state assessments, that trend is absent in these national test results," said O'Connell. "It's critical for the future of our state and nation that we close the achievement gap and prepare all students for successful futures. We must continue to focus our efforts ever more diligently on finding and using effective strategies that help all students learn to their full potential.
"These results also particularly highlight the need to better serve students who are learning the English language. In California, English learners make up a quarter of our student population, yet as a group, this population scores far behind nearly every other subgroup. It is critically important for us to search for the best strategies to assist these students to succeed academically in order for California to thrive and maintain its place as a leading world economy."
The NAEP data also reveal that students with access to books at home and who read for fun scored significantly higher on the reading assessment.
"Reading is fundamental to learning," said O'Connell. "Parents play a crucial role in helping their children build a solid foundation for learning by encouraging them to read every day. It is so important that we support school libraries and public libraries that provide students access to a wealth of reading materials and other literary resources."
NAEP is a national assessment that tests a representative sample of students in grades four, eight, and twelve in various subjects including reading, writing, math, and science. NAEP provides a common yardstick for measuring student achievement nationwide, allowing for state comparisons. NAEP assessments are not aligned to California's content standards, but are based on an assessment framework developed under the direction of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. Results are released for the nation, states, and certain large urban school districts. There are no student- or school-level results. The limited large urban school district results for the 2009 reading assessment are expected to be released in May. National-level grade twelve reading results will be released later this year.
Recently, California joined 47 other states, two territories, and the District of Columbia in signing a compact to explore the development of rigorous common core standards that are designed to ensure that every state prepares students for success in college and the workforce.
"I strongly support the idea of common core standards that prepare all students for success in college and careers," said O'Connell. "When states develop and adopt high-quality common standards, assessments like NAEP will become more meaningful tools for measuring learning and comparing scores nationwide. I look forward to the convening of the Academic Content Standards Commission and its work to help integrate the common core standards here in California."
Complete results for the 2009 NAEP reading assessment are available online at The Nation's Report Card - National Assessment of Educational Progress - NAEP (Outside Source).
California has some of the highest standards in the nation. What we do not have is most of our students achieving these standards. The proposed Arne Duncan school reforms are to raise the national standards. This will have no significant impact on California. We have the high standards, not the achievement.