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NEWS RELEASES 2005-06

NEWS RELEASES 2005-06 :: OCTOBER 19, 2005

2005 NAEP READING AND MATHEMATICS RESULTS RELEASED

North Carolina educators received a snapshot of mathematics and reading performance for grades four and eight today with the release of 2005 public school results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called The Nation's Report Card. State-level results for the NAEP are based on North Carolina public schools only; therefore all comparisons with the nation are made using public school scores only.

The state's mathematics performance held steady in 2005 and average scores at both grades four and eight were higher than the nation's average scores at each grade. North Carolina has made the greatest mathematics gains in the nation since state NAEP testing began for each grade.

National reading scores were significantly higher in grade four but significantly lower in grade eight. No state posted a significant increase in its average reading score at grade eight while eight states had a significant increase in grade four between 2003 and 2005. North Carolina fourth graders scored at the national average in reading, while eighth graders scored below the national average this year.

State Superintendent June Atkinson and State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee held a news briefing today in Raleigh to discuss North Carolina's performance and to call for a greater emphasis on reading in schools, families and communities. This is the second year that results have been available on the NAEP for all 50 states due to a requirement in No Child Left Behind, although North Carolina has participated voluntarily in NAEP for 15 years.

"The trendline for North Carolina students is positive in mathematics. This year we held the very strong gains that we have made over the past decade. Our goal is to continue that progress," State Superintendent June Atkinson said. "However, the NAEP reading scores show us that we have work to do. Our trendlines in reading are not where they need to be. Reading should be a focus of every family, every school and every community."

Atkinson said that DPI staff members will continue to analyze the NAEP information in light of results posted over the past several years on the state's own end-of-grade assessments in reading and mathematics. The trendlines demonstrated by the NAEP results for each grade and subject are similar to the performance of fourth and eighth graders on state end-of-grade assessments.

SBE Chairman Lee said that North Carolina has put into place some critical initiatives to support North Carolina's goal to make dramatic improvements in student achievement on NAEP and the state assessments in reading and mathematics.

"We began an aggressive reading strategy through Reading First two years ago in nearly 100 elementary schools with low reading achievement across the state," Lee said. "These efforts, which involve students in the early grades, will show up on NAEP measures in future years, and will give us a roadmap for expanding this approach to providing professional development, building leadership and strengthening reading instruction in more schools in our state."

Chairman Lee noted that direct reading strategies, in conjunction with More at Four Pre-kindergarten Programs for at-risk 4-year-olds, lowered class size ratios in the early grades, and targeted initiatives such as the Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Funding in specific local school districts, will help schools improve.


Mathematics Results

In 2005, the NAEP average scale score in mathematics for fourth grade students in North Carolina was 241. This was not significantly different from the state's 2003 performance (242) and was significantly higher than the average scale score in 1992 (213). North Carolina's average scale score in 2005 was significantly higher than that of the nation's public schools (237).

In fourth grade mathematics, North Carolina students' average scale score was higher than those in 26 jurisdictions, not significantly different from those in 20 jurisdictions and lower than those in five jurisdictions.

For eighth grade, the average scale score in North Carolina was 282. This was not significantly different from 2003 (281) and was significantly higher than the average scale score in 1990 (250). North Carolina's average scale score in 2005 was significantly higher than that of the nation's public schools (278).

In eighth grade mathematics, of the 52 states and jurisdictions that participated in the 2005 grade eight assessments, students' average scale score in North Carolina was significantly higher than those in 23 jurisdictions, not significantly different from those in 20 jurisdictions and significantly lower than those in eight jurisdictions.


Reading Results

In 2005, the average scale score for fourth grade students in North Carolina was 217. This was significantly lower than the average scale score in 2003 (221), and was significantly higher than the average scale score in 1992 (212). North Carolina's average scale score (217) in 2005 was not significantly different from that of the nation's public schools (217).

Of the 52 states and jurisdictions that participated in the 2005 grade four assessments, students' average scale score in North Carolina was significantly higher than that of 12 jurisdictions, not significantly different from scores in 14 jurisdictions and significantly lower than those in 25 jurisdictions.

For eighth grade reading, the average scale score for North Carolina students was 258. This was significantly lower than the average scale score in 2003 (262) and was significantly lower than the average scale score in 1998 (262). North Carolina's average scale score (258) in 2005 was significantly lower from that of the nation's public schools (260).

Of the 52 states and jurisdictions that participated in the 2005 grade eight assessments, students' average scale score in North Carolina was significantly higher than those in nine jurisdictions, not significantly different from those in 12 jurisdictions and significantly lower than scores in 30 jurisdictions.


Performance Levels

The NAEP measures student performance and categorizes performance as below basic, at basic, proficient or advanced. These performance levels are set by the National Assessment Governing Board and are considered very rigorous.
In 2005, 83 percent of North Carolina fourth graders scored at or above the NAEP basic level on the mathematics assessment. This level was about the same as in 2003 (85 percent) and was significantly higher than in 1992 (50 percent).

For eighth graders, 72 percent of North Carolina students performed at or above the NAEP basic level in mathematics, not significantly different than in 2003 (72 percent) and was significantly higher than in 1990 (38 percent).

In reading, the percent of North Carolina fourth graders who performed at or above the NAEP basic level was 62 percent in 2005. This was significantly lower than in 2003 (66 percent) and was significantly higher than in 1992 (56 percent).

For eighth grade reading, 69 percent of North Carolina students performed at or above the NAEP basic level. This was significantly lower than in 2003 (72 percent) and was significantly lower than in 1998 (74 percent).


Achievement Gaps

In North Carolina, as in the nation, there are achievement gaps among various groups. In general, male and female students score about the same on the mathematics assessment. Female students score higher than male students on the reading assessments.

Among racial or ethnic groups, white students tend to score higher than other racial groups, and students who do not receive free or reduced-price lunch score higher than students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch under the school lunch program.


NAEP Background

The NAEP assesses mathematics in five content areas: number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis and probability; and algebra. The NAEP assesses reading in three contexts: reading for literary experience, to gain information and to perform a task. The NAEP scale is 0-500 in both subjects.

The 2005 NAEP release covers mathematics and reading at grades four and eight as measured in tests given in the spring of 2005 to samples of students in 52 states and jurisdictions. This includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Schools. In North Carolina, approximately 8,160 students in approximately 175 schools were assessed at the fourth grade level. At grade eight, approximately 7,853 students in 140 schools were assessed. Because the NAEP is given to a representative sample of students in each state, local district or school scores are not available. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools participates in NAEP's Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) along with other selected large urban school districts in the nation. The results for TUDA will be released by the national Center for Education Statistics at a later date.

The NAEP allows exclusions for some students with disabilities when specified by the students' Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or for students identified as English language learners. North Carolina's 2005 exclusion rates were lower than the national rates. North Carolina excluded 4 percent or fewer students at each subject and grade level, as compared to 7 percent or fewer nationally.

For more information on North Carolina's performance, please contact the DPI Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

The following additional information resources also are available:

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.