The results for nationwide reading and mathematics assessments are in, and Delaware students, and schools, have their work cut out for them.
In Delaware, fourth and eighth graders took the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests between January and March of this year. Overall, scores remained flat from 2009, when the exams were last administered.
“These results reinforce what we knew: The status quo wasn’t working,” Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery said. “The aggressive reforms and innovative work being rolled out across the state this year as part of our Race to the Top plan are necessary to bring the significant improvements our students need.”
Based on this year’s average reading scores, Delaware’s fourth and eighth grade students outperformed the average for public school students in the nation. In math, Delaware’s 2011 average score was on par with public school students nationwide for both grades.
Still, Dr. Lowery says the state has a ways to go.
“The 2011 NAEP assessments, taken by students last year during the Race to the Top planning year, give us a starting point by which to benchmark our progress in the coming years under these reforms,” Lowery said. “In our Race to the Top plan, we set high goals for Delaware, including on NAEP performance. Our children need us to meet – and exceed – those goals. And that means we as adults must do the work we promised to do.”
The state’s goals include:
60 percent of Delaware fourth-graders being rated proficient or advanced on NAEP by 2014-15
55 percent of students being proficient or advanced on all other NAEP exams by 2014-15
Reducing the black-white and Hispanic-white achievement gaps by half on NAEP by 2014-15
The state, however, says progress is being made in reading, reducing the number of students at the Below Basic level by 15 percent since 1998 at fourth grade and by nine percent at eighth grade. During the same period, the number of students at the Proficient Level has increased by seven percent at grade four and eight percent at grade eight.
Mathematics is also seeing gains. Delaware has reduced the number of students at the Below Basic level by 30 percent since 1996 at fourth grade and by 19 percent at eighth grade, according to the DOE. During the same period, the number of students at the Proficient achievement level has increased by 18 percent at grade four and nine percent at grade eight.