National Assessment of Educational Progress Results Show Connecticut Did Well
High School seniors in Connecticut did really well on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for the previous school year according to the results released last Wednesday. They outdid most of their east coast colleagues in Math, Science, Social Studies and English. Joining Connecticut on the list of top scorers are the states of Idaho, Arkansas and West Virginia.
The tests showed that 38% of seniors from Connecticut attained proficiency in reading. While this is higher than the last time the test was conducted in 2005, it is significantly lower than the score when the testing began in 1992—back then, 50% of seniors were able attain proficiency. Some teachers are alarmed by the direction of the progress whereas some of the educators simply attributed this to the difference in the volume of things which students these days have to learn, coupled with the number of distractions available that compete for the students’ attention. However, the opposite can be said for math where more than 92,000 seniors from the participating 13 states gained proficiency.
Connecticut was also the only participating state where students from minority groups such as the African Americans and Latinos were able to get higher scores than other students. Elsewhere in the nation, only 7% of African American students were able to gain proficiency in math whereas only 15% did the same in English; the Hispanics got 11% in math and 22% in reading—slightly higher but still quite dismal, in education terms. In Connecticut, a significant number of African American students weren’t just able to gain proficiency—they were able to reach a score level of superior mastery.
Since one of the aims of the test is to provide a measuring tool for where schools can improve their programs, the NAEP is hopeful that these developments can be used to aid students from minorities in different schools throughout the nation. They state that one of their main goals is to be able to erode the gap between the minority students and the rest of the student body by providing proper educational tools that will help everyone out. They are current looking at the way that education is designed and implemented in Connecticut to arrive at a possible strategy that will raise scores for the test the next time it is taken as well as provide the students with knowledge and skills that they will need both to get into a good college (if they should so choose) and to eventually get employed full-time.
Upon analysis of the scores, Mr. Pryor, Connecticut’s education minister said that the rise in scores for Connecticut may have to do with their increase of investments in education—these include seminars, field trips and more specific schooling programs which motivate students to get into a good college or to take alternative paths toward a successful career. These investments have been made particularly to help out the schools which don’t have a lot of financing and which did the worst in previous tests; schools without much private funding. Connecticut has been making these moves since 2010 and the work has definitely paid off.
Bari Anhalt Erlhicson, the chief performance officer at the New Jersey Education Department says that it’s possible these tests themselves must also be evaluated. New Jersey didn’t score quite as well as Connecticut although its scores have also risen as compared to the testing in 2005. This came as a surprise to Ms. Erlhicson because New Jersey has one of the highest graduation rates on the east coast—capped last year at 88%.
For now, the NAEP says that it will focus on studying Connecticut’s structure before coming up with ways to improve the test and to conduct more studies that will help schools to improve their curriculum and educational strategies. They have also addressed New Jersey’s concern and will also look into New Jersey’s high graduation rate as something that should be recognized and factored into the test’s measures and scope.