Students’ math test scores slip for first time since ’90

Oct 29, 2015 by

NEW YORK — Math test scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students across the United States dipped in 2015, marking the first such decline in 25 years, according to a U.S. Department of Education report released Wednesday.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the “nation’s report card,” found the average of test scores for more than half a million students declined.

Test scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students dropped two points to 240 and three points to 282, respectively, from 2013 to 2015. The test, which is administered every other year, is scored on a scale of 0 to 300.

The report did not offer reasons for the dip, and experts say the decline does not span enough time to allow firm conclusions to be drawn.

“At this point. we don’t know if it’s a one-year fluke or something else,” said William Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Mr. Mathis said that while more data are needed, several factors could have contributed to the decline.

One is the use of rigorous standardized testing initiatives in schools over the past 14 years, which he says can exhaust students and educators.

President Barack Obama this week called for curbs on standardized testing for that same reason.

The economy and inequalities disproportionately affecting children of color are other possible reasons for the decline in test scores, Mr. Mathis said.

Education officials said the math-score decline could be related to changes ushered in by the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by more than 40 states. For example, some of the fourth-grade math questions on data analysis, statistics and geometry are not part of that grade’s guidelines under the Common Core and so might not have been covered in class. The largest score drops on the fourth-grade math exams were on questions related to those topics.

Reading scores were down three points for eighth graders while fourth-grade levels were unchanged, according to the report.

Source: Students’ math test scores slip for first time since ’90 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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