Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Not Moving Forward: Kentucky’s 2019 NAEP Results

Kentucky did not gain ground in the newest results from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). We need to own that truth in order to change it, so this will be a pretty blunt, quick post showing the absence of improvement in our reading and math scores.

For simplicity, the analysis will use the percent of students reaching or going beyond the level NAEP defines as proficient. Do know that NAEP proficiency is a demanding standard, even higher than the KPREP proficiency expectations used in Kentucky assessments.

First, here’s the overview for all students. The five percent drop in grade 4 reading proficiency is statistically significant. Looking at all students together, there are no statistically significant changes in the proficiency levels for grade 8 reading, grade 4 math, or grade 8 math . Instead, those three subjects add to the rising concern that Kentucky’s educational progress, at least on the skills measured by NAEP, has stalled.

Second, the reading problem is spread across many student groups. The chart below compares grade 4 reading results for many groups, and it’s grim stuff. 2019 reported proficiency levels are lower than 2015 for every group except Hispanic students–and the change for that group is not statistically significant. Clearly, the overall pattern is clearly not one of rising results and narrowing gaps.

Third, the other assessments (grade 8 reading, grade 4 math, and grade 8 math) offered little sign of progress. The only change for disaggregated student groups that counted as statistically significant was the drop in grade 8 reading results for Asian/Pacific Islander students. The math results for grade 8 may hint at a bit of improvement below the significant level, but it’s only a small hint and it’s mainly in the results student groups we already serve well. At the bottom of this post, you can see the 2019 group results, along with comparisons to 2015, for all four subjects.

Here’s the important thing: Kentucky’s intent is to move forward, strengthening students each year and equipping each class to be increasingly effective as contributors and participants in our communities and our economy. These results do not show that forward movement. 2019 NAEP results signal clearly that we must rebuild our momentum, our collaboration, our innovation, and our investments in Kentucky’s rising generation.

Author note: this post has been edited to clarify when it discusses results for all students taken together and when it discusses disaggregated student groups. In the paragraph that begins with the words “first” and the paragraph that begins with the word “third,” the words in blue italics are the ones that have been added.