Kentucky schools have failed to make progress for the last decade in the critical areas of 4th- and 8th-grade reading and mathematics on a national test whose latest scores were released Wednesday, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP, given every two years to a sample of elementary and middle school students throughout the country, was administered in the spring of 2019 to 6,300 students in 318 Kentucky schools. State and district officials did not immediately have data on whether any Fayette County students took the test.
NAEP is the only assessment that measures what U.S. students know and can do in various subjects from state to state and in some urban districts including Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky Department of Education officials said in a news release Wednesday.
While Kentucky’s students performed about the same as students in roughly half of other states, scores either remained the same from 2009 and 2017 or dropped slightly, state education officials said.
Student performance on NAEP fits into one of four categories: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient or Advanced. In Kentucky, 33 percent of 4th-graders and 27 percent of 8th-graders were Below Basic in reading, signaling what Lewis referred to as an “academic emergency.” In mathematics, 19 percent of 4th-graders and 33 percent of 8th-graders scored at the Below Basic level.
“I would like us to make more progress than we’ve had recently in both reading and math, but the number and percentage of Kentucky 4th- and 8th-graders with performance at the Below Basic level on NAEP is what troubles me most,” Lewis said.
However, Lewis said Wednesday’s results are not surprising in that they align with the results of recent statewide assessment results on the K-PREP tests that were released earlier this fall.
Brigitte Blom Ramsey, the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, said members of her group were also concerned with Kentucky’s results.
“The results provide further evidence that Kentucky’s educational progress has stalled, with the fourth grade reading results suggesting that we are moving backward in critical areas,” Ramsey said. “We must stop the decline and return to a place of progress.”