Nation’s Report Card shows test score declines in U.S., mixed results for Ohio

FILE - In this April 30, 2015 file photo, Leticia Fonseca, 16, left, and her twin sister, Sylvia Fonseca, right, work in the computer lab at Cuyama Valley High School after taking the new Common Core-aligned standardized tests, in New Cuyama, Calif. More states are dropping out of the two testing consortia in favor of developing their own tests. That means when all the results are in, it won’t be possible to compare results across most states, undermining one of the main reasons Common Core was created. (AP Photo/Christine Armario, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – It’s a not-so rosy report card for the nation’s schoolchildren.

Math scores slipped for fourth and eighth graders over the last two years, and reading grades were not much better, flat for fourth graders and lower for eighth graders, according to the 2015 Nation’s Report Card.

The results of the test, officially known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, were released Wednesday.

The report suggests students have a ways to go to demonstrate a solid grasp or mastery of their reading and math skills.

Only about a third of the nation’s eighth-graders were at proficient or above in math and reading. Among fourth graders, the results were slightly better in reading and in math, about two in five scored proficient or above.

And the report found a continuing achievement gap between white and black students.

There were a few bright spots. The District of Columbia and Mississippi both saw substantial gains in reading and math.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged parents, teachers, and others not to panic about the scores as states embrace higher academic standards, such as Common Core.

“We should expect scores in this period to bounce around some, and I think that ‘implementation dip’ is part of what we’re seeing here,” Duncan said in a phone call with reporters. “I would caution everyone to be careful about drawing conclusions … anyone who claims to have this all figured out is pedaling a personal agenda, rather than an educational one.”

Reacting to the scores, Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, said one year’s worth of data shouldn’t send the nation’s schools and teachers off in a different direction.

“Having the higher academic standards caused the states and teachers and districts to change the way they’re teaching certain things,” Minnich said in an interview. “We may be in a place where some of the questions that are asked on this national test aren’t being taught at the same time they were being taught before.”

WKBN looks at results in Ohio and Pennsylvania:

  • Fewer Ohio 8th-graders were deemed proficient in mathematics (35%) and reading (36%) compared to two years ago. Fewer 4th-graders in Ohio were deemed proficient in mathematics (45%).
  • Ohio remains at or above average compared to other states in math and reading proficiency.
  • Pennsylvania 8th-graders also saw declines in their scores since 2013. Fewer 8th-grade students in the Commonwealth were deemed proficient in mathematics (36%) and reading (39%).
  • PA 4th-graders trended slightly upward for proficiency in mathematics (45%) and reading (41%), where students’ scores were 8th-best in the country.

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