NAEP scores are hard to interpret directly since they run on a scale from 0 to 500 points. To make the scores easier to understand test makers determine the lowest possible score that ensures a student is proficient and able to read at their grade level. For example, in 2015 the test found that 36% of students in 8th grade were proficient or better in reading.

The below graphs show the percentage of 4th and 8th grade Ohio who ranked as proficient or better in reading. The graphs also show the average percentage in the entire nation so a comparison can be made from 2002 until 2015.

The story you just read describes Walter's color as brilliant. This means

  1. Walter's color made him smart
  2. Walter was able to change colors
  3. Walter's color was very bright
  4. Walter was many different colors

Ohio students are tested many times before they graduate. How do our state’s students compare with students from the rest of the nation in reading?

Each year a random selection of fourth and eighth grade students are tested in every U.S. state. The test is called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP for short. This exam gives educators, researchers, politicians and interested parents the ability to see which states have the best performing students and which states have the worst.

The NAEP was first administered in 1969, and each year tracks what students know in subjects such as mathematics, reading, science, and writing. The test is given the exact same way in each state so that results provide a common and consistent measure of student knowledge. At the time this blog post was written in March 2018, the latest publicly available scores were from 2015.

The reading assessment asks each student to first read a short selection that contains grade-appropriate material. Then each student is asked to answer questions based on what they just read. An example of a reading question given to 4th graders is as follows.

The two graphs show some important facts.

First, Ohio students consistently perform better than the average student in the USA. Overall, one-third (33%) of all 4th and 8th graders in the USA from 2002 to 2015 were ranked proficient. In Ohio 35% of 4th grade students and 36% of 8th grade students were ranked proficient from 2002 to 2015.

Second, Ohio students, especially 4th graders have been improving over time. In 2002 among the 4th graders 34% were marked as proficient. By 2015, the figure had jumped to 38% for 4th graders. Eighth graders did not show as much improvement. In 2002 about 35% were marked as proficient but by 2015 this figure had only increased by one percentage point to 36%. Nevertheless, 8th grade reading scores showed improvement from 2003 to 2013.

Third, Ohio students, have a ways to go to catch up with the best states. In 2015, Massachusetts had the highest percentage of students who were marked proficient in reading. Half of all 4th grade students in Massachusetts were ranked proficient or better and 46% of eight grade students earned this rating.

Overall, the graphs and other data show Ohio is doing better than the average state in the USA. However, since 2002 only slightly more than one-third of all students are reading proficiently at their grade level. This means there is still much work that needs to be done to ensure Ohio produces literate students.

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