Reveling in Election Results? New NAEP Scores Mixed Bag for Colorado & Nation

With all the important results related to education in last night’s election here in Colorado — hooray, the only dominoes that toppled were the ones supporting the Prop 103 tax increase on families like mine, AND the school choice champions in Douglas County all won — it would be easy for me to overlook some other significant education news. Rather than overlook it on one hand or delve deeply into it on the other, I’m merely going to point you to some early thoughts and observations.

I’m talking about yesterday’s release of the latest results for math and reading from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), better known as the Nation’s Report Card, the gold-standard test to measure what 4th grade and 8th grade students in different states are learning about important subjects. Without further ado, here are some good reads:

  • Linking to a Colorado Department of Education news release, Ed News Colorado reports that our state‘s 8th graders showed improvements in both math and reading, but 4th graders made “no significant change”
  • Fordham’s Mike Petrilli speculates that the now-defunct national Reading First initiative may account for the better national showing in reading by 8th graders than 4th graders
  • Kevin Carey of Education Sector notes continuing national progress in math scores, observes the stubbornness of the achievement gap, and raises the specter of how the results filter into national debates over reauthorizing ESEA and adopting Common Core standards
  • Speaking of the achievement gap, Matt Ladner lays out how poor students and (more specifically) poor, African-American students did state-by-state on 4th grade reading; interestingly, Colorado — which continues to remain above the national average on overall NAEP scores — was below the mark in the former category
  • Education Week blogger Michele McNeil takes a look at the results through the lens of states that won Race to the Top, and finds unexpected positive gains from Hawaii and Maryland, while also observing remarkable math gains among Washington, D.C., students — which would be a credit to the bold reform program of now-former Chancellor Michelle Rhee

That’s certainly a lot easier than diving into the data and coming up with original observations myself, at least for now. More time to ruminate later. But I thought you might find these initial insights interesting, at least as much as you can while reveling in last night’s election results.