The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009

Twenty-eight percent of all Kansas fourth graders’ reading skills were below even the basic level in 2009, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) read at the basic level or below in 2009.

Just 28 percent of Kansas fourth graders were proficient readers, and only 7 percent could read at an advanced level.

Yet these results compare favorably with many other jurisdictions across the country. In the nation’s capital, a disheartening 56 percent of all fourth graders were below basic readers, and 83 percent of all fourth graders read only at the basic level or below.

More than 40 percent of all fourth graders read at a below basic level in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico. In another 26 states, fourth graders were tested with below basic reading levels of 30 percent or more.

The situation is somewhat better for Kansas eighth graders, with 20 percent reading below basic, 47 percent at the basic level, 31 percent reading proficiently, but a miniscule 2 percent reading at the advanced level.

These results are reported in a 72-page assessment of reading skills at grades 4 and 8 from the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Science (US Department of Education), The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009.

Here’s how the National Center explains the testing and results from the most optimistic perspective:

“Nationally representative samples of more than 178,000 fourth-graders and 160,000 eighth-graders participated in the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.

“At grade 4, the average reading score in 2009 was unchanged from the score in 2007 but was higher than the scores in other earlier assessment years from 1992 to 2005. About two-thirds (67 percent) of fourth-graders performed at or above the Basic level in 2009, and one-third (33 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were unchanged from 2007 but were higher than previous assessment years. Eight percent of fourth-graders performed at the Advanced level, which was the same as in 2007 but higher than in 1992.

“At grade 8, the average reading score in 2009 was one point higher than in 2007 and four points higher than in 1992 but was not consistently higher than in all the assessment years in between. Gains since 2007 were seen for lower- and middle-performing students at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles, while scores for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles showed no significant change. In 2009, about three-quarters (75 percent) of eighth-graders performed at or above the Basic level, and one-third (32 percent) performed at or above Proficient. Both percentages were higher in 2009 than in 2007 and 1992. Three percent of eighth-graders performed at the Advanced level in 2009, which was the same as the percentages in 2007 and 1992.”

For more details, consult the full report.

Update: For some of the reaction to the report see Reading Scores Stall at the Pew Center’s Stateline.org and this somewhat oddly titled piece from the Washington Post.

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Published in: on March 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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