Skip to content
California Department of Education News Release
Release: #11-83
November 1, 2011
Contact: Pam Slater
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

California's Fourth and Eighth Grade Students
Continue Math and Reading Gains

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Comments on NAEP Results

SACRAMENTO—The latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results show California's fourth and eighth grade students continue to make incremental gains in reading and mathematics scores, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson reported today.

The average scores of California students tested on the 2011 NAEP were statistically unchanged from 2009, but higher than in 2005 or 2007 in both subjects, continuing a long-term trend of steady progress. Average scores for California as well as the nation continue to place at the Basic achievement level, which denotes partial mastery of fundamental skills, although California's average scores were lower than the national average. (NAEP scores fall into four categories: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and below Basic.)

"Our students are still making progress, even as they swim against a riptide of crowded classrooms and deep budget cuts to our schools," Torlakson said. "Asked to do more with less, students, teachers, school employees, and administrators have delivered. Imagine how much more they could accomplish—and how many more students would share in this progress—with the resources they deserve."

The NAEP reading and mathematics assessments take place every other year and provide states with trend data that can be compared over time.

Because California is much more demographically diverse than the nation as a whole, assessment experts also look at the performance of student subgroups in making comparisons.

On the Grade Four Reading assessment, the average score for many student groups in California was comparable to those at the national level, and the average score for the male and African American student groups moved up to the NAEP Basic achievement level for the first time. Several grade four student groups have made gains in reading since 2005, including African American, Hispanic, Asian, and economically disadvantaged students.

On the Grade Eight Reading assessment, the average scores for most student groups in California were lower than those of their peers at the national level, although the African American student group scored comparably to their peers at the national level. Since 2009, economically disadvantaged students had a gain in average score, and their average score moved into the NAEP Basic achievement level for the first time. Similar results were found for the Hispanic student group, which has had a significant improvement in average score since 2007 and, for the first time, scored at the NAEP Basic achievement level. The African American student group scored at the NAEP Basic achievement level for the first time in 2009, and scored at that same level in 2011. Grade eight female students in California have also shown significant improvement in their average score since 2007

On the Grade Four Mathematics assessment, white, African American, and Asian students in California scored comparably to their peers at the national level while the Hispanic student group scored lower. The average score for English language learners (ELLs) moved up to the NAEP Basic achievement level, and the average score for white and non-economically disadvantaged students moved from the NAEP Basic achievement level to the NAEP Proficient achievement level. Additionally, there have been score gains for many student groups since 2007, including male, female, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, and non-economically disadvantaged students.

Fewer gains were seen on the Grade Eight Mathematics assessment. The 2011 average score for most student groups in California was lower than at the national level, although the white student group scored comparably to their peers at the national level. While gains have been made by several grade eight student groups since 2005, the average score for ELLs has dropped.

In both subjects and at both grades, despite steady progress for many student groups, a significant achievement gap persists between white students and their Hispanic and African American peers. There have been no recent changes in California's White-Hispanic gap, which in most instances continues to be larger than the national gap. Results from the grade four mathematics assessment show an increase in this gap since 2005. The large percentage of ELLs that California schools serve compared to the nation as a whole might be a factor in these differences.

For example, at grade four approximately 28 percent of the Hispanic students that participated in the NAEP in California were ELLs compared to 9 percent nationally.

For both grades and subjects, the score gap between California's white and African American student groups is comparable to those at the national level. Results from the NAEP grade four reading assessment have shown a reduction in the gap between white and African American scores since 2005, with both student groups making score gains.

NAEP, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," is a national assessment that tests a representative sample of students in grades four, eight, and twelve in various subjects including reading, writing, mathematics, and science. NAEP provides a common yardstick for measuring student achievement nationwide, allowing for state comparisons. Results are released for the nation, states, and certain large urban school districts. There are no student- or school-level results. Reading and mathematics results for certain large urban districts are expected to be released later this year. Results from the 2011 science assessment are expected to be released in spring 2012.

Complete results for the 2011 NAEP reading and mathematics assessments are available online at the NAEP Web site: The Nation's Report Card - National Assessment of Educational Progress - NAEP [http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/] External link opens in new window or tab..

# # # #

Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Download Free Readers