Testing shows Vermont students near top

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s fourth- and eighth-graders scored among the best in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests of reading and mathematics, the Vermont Agency of Education announced this week. However, the test scores also showed that across the country students living in poverty lag behind their more affluent peers, including in Vermont.
NAEP highlights the statewide academic performance for all students, as well as demographic groups including race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status. The test is administered every other year to students in all 50 states, and does not include results for individual students, schools or classrooms.
Vermont students historically score in the top 10 states in the nation, and this year was no exception. In eighth grade, only Massachusetts students scored higher than Vermont in reading and mathematics. In fourth grade reading, only Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire scored higher. In fourth grade mathematics, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota outscored Vermont students. In comparison to the rest of the country, Vermont students were at least five percentage points higher and exceeded the national average by 11 percentage points in eighth grade mathematics.
In a global context, NAEP scores also show that if Vermont were a country our students would score among the best in the world. Working in collaboration with NAEP and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Institute of Education Sciences released the Linking Study showing how students from individual U.S. states would perform on an international assessment. In eighth grade mathematics, this study showed Vermont’s students achieving seventh in the world. Among U.S. states only Massachusetts did better. Internationally, students from Japan, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and the Republic of Korea were the highest performers. Science scores for Vermont students in the eighth grade were also impressive, with the Green Mountain State ranking fourth in the world. Only Singapore, Massachusetts and Chinese Taipei ranked higher in science (see table below).
“What this shows is that Vermont students continue to progress in comparison to other states and nations,” said Vermont Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca. “But I am particularly concerned that we still have not made major progress in closing the achievement gap for students living in poverty, which is why the agency will continue to work closely with Gov. Shumlin to implement and expand effective strategies such as pre-k, personalized learning plans and dual enrollment, which research tells us will help close this gap.”
Vermont students demonstrated significant achievement gaps based on family income at both grade levels and in both subject areas. The smallest gap was 14 percentage points in fourth grade mathematics, and the largest was 23 percentage points in fourth-grade reading. Although these gaps are smaller than the national average, it continues to be a major area of concern for Vermont.
“Although there is both good and bad news in the NAEP results, I’ve always believed that one test does not paint a full picture of how students and schools are progressing,” said Secretary Vilaseca. “The agency will continue to look at multiple measures in order to inform and guide our work.”
For more information about Vermont’s performance on NAEP, as well as national results of the 2013 administration, visit: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.

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