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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

Massachusetts Leads States in Fourth and Eighth Grade Reading and Mathematics for the Sixth Consecutive Time

MALDEN - Governor Charlie Baker announced today that Massachusetts fourth and eighth graders once again scored among the top states in reading and mathematics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. This year marks the sixth straight administration (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015) in which Massachusetts students have scored first or statistically tied for first place on all four NAEP tests.

According to the 2015 NAEP results, Massachusetts was alone in being first in fourth grade reading and tied for first among states in fourth grade mathematics, eighth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics. On all four tests, Massachusetts students scored well above the national average.

"I am thrilled to see Massachusetts students and teachers leading the nation once again," said Governor Charlie Baker. "This achievement reflects the substantial investment the Commonwealth makes in its districts, but there are still too many children stuck in low performing schools that could be served by expanding high quality education to every community, including lifting the charter cap."

Compared to 2013, the performance of Massachusetts students held steady in grade 4 reading and mathematics and grade 8 reading but declined by a statistically significant 4 points in eighth grade mathematics. (The grades on the other three tests varied slightly from last year but not to a statistically significant degree.) Massachusetts was one of 22 states to see a statistically significant decline in grade 8 math between 2013 and 2015. The nation as a whole saw a statistically significant drop of 2 points in eighth grade mathematics and of 1 point in fourth grade mathematics while holding steady in reading in both grades 4 and 8.

"I am pleased that Massachusetts remains the national leader on NAEP results, particularly in fourth grade reading. I am concerned, however, by the drop in eighth grade math and the low eighth grade reading results of our Hispanic students," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "We will review all of our results to identify opportunities for strengthening the Commonwealth's program of instruction."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as "The Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in core subjects. The assessment tests representative samples of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results for grades 4 and 8. In Massachusetts, 3,100 grade 4 students were randomly selected to take a NAEP reading assessment, and 3,200 were selected to take a mathematics test. In grade 8, 3,000 students were selected to take reading, and 3,100 were selected to take mathematics. The scale for NAEP reading and mathematics scores ranges from 0 to 500.

According to the 2015 NAEP results, Massachusetts fourth graders had an average scale score of 235 in reading, higher than in 2013 (232) and above the national average of 221. In mathematics, fourth graders scored 251, statistically unchanged from 2013 (253) and higher than the national average of 240. In grade 8, students scored 274 in reading, statistically unchanged from 2013 (277) and above the national average of 264. In mathematics, eighth graders scored 297, statistically down from 2013 (301) and higher than the national average of 281.

Other 2015 NAEP results for Massachusetts students included:

Grade 4 Reading:

  • Massachusetts had the top scale score (235). All other states scored statistically lower than Massachusetts.
  • 50 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly higher than the national average of 35 percent and not statistically different from 2013 (47 percent).
  • In 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander students had the highest average scale score (249), followed by white students (242), black students (217) and Hispanic students (215).
  • 68 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored Proficient or above, as did 58 percent of whites and 25 percent of blacks and of Hispanics.
  • Massachusetts female students in grade 4 outperformed male students in reading both in terms of scale scores (238 to 233) and the percent scoring Proficient or above (53 to 47 percent).
  • The performance of students with disabilities increased (from 201 to 209) between 2013 and 2015, as did that of students eligible for free or reduced lunch (from 213 to 220) and English language learners (from 192 to 200).

Grade 8 Reading:

  • Massachusetts (274) tied with Connecticut (273), New Hampshire (275) and Vermont (274) for the highest score among states. The remaining states scored statistically lower than Massachusetts.
  • 46 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly higher than the national average of 33 percent and similar to 2013 (48 percent).
  • The performance of students with disabilities increased from 245 to 246 between 2013 and 2015, while the scale score of students eligible for free or reduced lunch remained the same at 260. English language learners had a scale score of 225 in 2015 compared to 224 in 2013.
  • In 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander students had an average scale score of 290, whites 281, blacks 252 and Hispanics 249.
  • Massachusetts' female students at grade 8 outperformed male students in reading both in terms of scale scores (278 to 271) and percent scoring Proficient or above (50 to 41 percent).

Grade 4 Mathematics:

  • Students in Massachusetts (251) tied with students in Indiana (248), Minnesota (250) and New Hampshire (249) as the top scorers in the country. The remaining states scored statistically lower than Massachusetts.
  • 54 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly higher than the national average of 39 percent and similar to 2013 (58 percent).
  • In 2015, Asian/Pacific Island students had an average scale score of 273, white students 256, Hispanic students 232 and black students 230.
  • 81 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored Proficient or above, as did 62 percent of white students, 28 percent of Hispanic students and 26 percent of black students.
  • Massachusetts male students in grade 4 outperformed female students in mathematics both in terms of scale scores (253 to 248) and the percent scoring Proficient or above (57 to 50).
  • The performance of students with disabilities fell from 232 in 2013 to 231 in 2015. English language learners averaged the same scale score as last year (223), and students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch saw their average scale score drop from 237 to 236.

Grade 8 Mathematics:

  • Students in Massachusetts (297) tied students in Minnesota (294), New Hampshire (294), and New Jersey (293) for the top score in the nation. The remaining states scored statistically lower than Massachusetts.
  • 51 percent of all Massachusetts students scored Proficient or above, significantly higher than the national average of 32 percent and similar to 2013 (55 percent).
  • In 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander students had an average scale score of 324. Whites' average scale score was 304, Hispanics' was 271 and blacks' was 268.
  • Eighth grade girls slightly outperformed their male counterparts both in terms of average scaled score (299 to 295) and in the percent at Proficiency or above (53 percent compared to 49 percent).
  • The performance of students with disabilities fell from 268 in 2013 to 264 in 2015. English language learners rose from 249 in 2013 to 251 in 2015. Students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch saw their average scale score drop from 313 to 311.

Additional information on NAEP is available on the Nation's Report Card website at https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/.

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Last Updated: October 28, 2015
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