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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Contact:Heidi Guarino781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112

For 3rd Consecutive Time, Massachusetts Students Top Nation on NAEP Math

Grade 8 Ranks First, Grade 4 Tied for First

MALDEN - The Patrick-Murray Administration hailed news today that Massachusetts 4th and 8th grade students ranked first in the nation in math for the third time in a row last year, according to results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Math exam.

The state's 8th graders outscored students from every other state and ranked first alone, while the Commonwealth's 4th graders tied for first with students from New Hampshire and Minnesota. In both 2005 and 2007, Massachusetts 4th and 8th graders either ranked first or tied for first on the NAEP reading and math exams. The 2009 NAEP reading and science results will be released in 2010.

According to the Massachusetts results, African-American 8th graders made significant gains, with the percent scoring Proficient or higher rising from 13 to 23 percent since 2007, the last time the NAEP math exam was administered.

"Yet again, our students are leading the nation. This is an extraordinary accomplishment and our students, teachers, administrators and parents should be celebrated for their achievements," said Governor Patrick. "Now we must commit to building on our considerable success by ensuring that every child is empowered with the education they need to succeed in a 21st Century global economy."

Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester congratulated all students on the results and urged students to continue to strive to achieve at even higher levels.

"I am extremely pleased with our overall performance on the NAEP Math exam and am proud of the Commonwealth's students and educators," he said. "But while we remain among the top performers in the country, we still have too many children who are not succeeding in mathematics."

Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo agreed.

"Everyone should be proud of this achievement," said Sen. Murray. "To lead the country in math three times in a row shows that our students, teachers and school officials have made a serious commitment to improving results. State government must now do everything it can in this tough economy to make sure we continue to provide the resources and incentives to help our schools capitalize on this great success and continue to improve, especially in our under-performing school districts."

"I am proud that Massachusetts remains at the top in national assessments," said Rep. DeLeo. "These test results reflect our collective commitment to promoting student achievement."

The 2009 results in grades 4 and 8 were not statistically different from the 2007 NAEP math results, but the percent scoring Proficient was well above the national average. In grade 4 Math, 57 percent of Massachusetts students in 2009 scored Proficient or above, as did 58 percent in 2007; in grade 8 Math, 52 percent scored Proficient or above, as did 51 percent in 2007.

Nationally, just 38 percent of 4th graders scored Proficient or above, as did 33 percent of 8th graders.

"I am very proud to see Massachusetts students setting the standard once again for 4th and 8th graders," said Senator Robert O'Leary (D-Barnstable), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. "Reforms to our current education system are major issues on Beacon Hill this session, and I want to see the successes of these students in all grades and in every subject."

"I am pleased that Massachusetts students are once again at the head of the class," said Representative Martha M. Walz (D-Boston), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. "Our challenge now is to continue to improve so we not only ensure future success but also guarantee that every student has full access to a high quality education."

NAEP, also 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. NAEP assesses representative samples of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results at grades 4 and 8. In Massachusetts, 3,700 students at grade 4 and 3,600 students at grade 8 were randomly selected to take the NAEP Math exam in 2009.

"The collective performance of our students continues to be impressive," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The state must now meet our commitment to improve teaching and learning in every corner of the state to ensure that all students reach academic proficiency and achieve in college and career."

Additional results for Massachusetts students included:

Grade 4 Math:

  • 57 percent scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 38 percent.
  • White students (average scaled score of 258) outscored African American/Black students (236) and Hispanic students (232), but scored lower than Asian/Pacific Islander students (264).
  • 67 percent of white students scored Proficient or above in Massachusetts, as did 30 percent of African American/Black students, 25 percent of Hispanic students, and 70 percent of Asian students.
  • The average scaled scores of male students (253) and female students (251) were not found to differ significantly; 59 percent of males and 55 percent of females scored Proficient or above.
  • 32 percent of students with disabilities scored Proficient or above, compared to 61 percent of non-disabled students.
  • 15 percent of English language learners (ELL) scored Proficient or above, compared to 60 percent of non-ELL students.

Grade 8 Math:

  • 52 percent scored Proficient or above, significantly more than the national average of 33 percent.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, the percent of African American/Black students who scored Proficient or above in mathematics increased from 13 percent to 23 percent.
  • White students (average scaled score of 305) outscored African American/Black students (272) and Hispanic students (271), and were not different than Asian/Pacific Islander students (314).
  • 59 percent of white students scored Proficient or above in Massachusetts, compared to 23 percent of African American/Black students, 21 percent of Hispanic students, and 66 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students.
  • The average scaled score of male students (300) and female students (298) were not found to differ significantly. 53 percent of males and 50 percent of females scored Proficient or above in 2009.
  • 21 percent of students with disabilities scored Proficient or above, compared to 57 percent of non-disabled students.
  • 8 percent of English language learners (ELL) scored Proficient or above, compared to 53 percent of non-ELL students.

NAEP is mandated by the U.S. Congress, administered by the U.S. Department of Education and overseen by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). This 26-member board is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education but remains independent of the Department. The board determines the subjects and content to be tested on NAEP and oversees the public releases of NAEP results. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan named former Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll chair of the NAGB board. Driscoll has served on the board as a member since 2006.

"If we are to succeed, we all must work together to provide comprehensive, challenging math courses for future educators," Driscoll said in a statement. "In turn, we can improve the performance of students in such an important subject."

Additional information on NAEP is available on the Nation's Report Card website at www.nationsreportcard.gov and on the Department's website at www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/natl-intl/naep.



Last Updated: October 14, 2009
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