By one measure, Vermont’s students are among the best in the world. By another measure, they lag behind their peers in neighboring states.
The state Agency of Education recently released test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress showing that, across the 50 states, Vermont’s eighth-graders are second only to Massachusetts’ in reading and math.
Since 1969, the congressionally mandated NEAP test has been administered every two years to fourth- and eighth-graders through the U.S. Department of Education, which refers to the test results as “the nation’s report card.”
This year’s report card shows that while the state’s eighth-graders are second in the nation, Vermont’s fourth-graders rank fourth in both reading and math.
In reading, Vermont’s fourth-graders come in behind Maryland’s. In math, they lag behind Minnesota’s. Across both subjects, they rank lower than students from Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
At the bottom of the report card is the District of Columbia, which scored last or nearly last across all grades and subjects. In fourth grade, low performers included Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico. Mississippi was also at or near the bottom of the list for eighth-grade scores, along with Alabama.
The NEAP scores also look at how household income can affect test results. In Vermont, fourth-grade children living in poverty scored 23 percent lower in reading and 14 percent lower in math.
In an accompanying study, the U.S. Department of Education worked with the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement to see how U.S. states would rank internationally compared with other countries.
The study, which used 2011 data from NAEP results and the association’s test results from more than 50 countries, shows that if Vermont were a country, it would rank seventh in eighth-grade math.
Again, Vermont comes in behind Massachusetts, as well as Japan, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. At the bottom in this study are the states of Utah and Arkansas, as well as the country of Slovenia.
“What this shows is that Vermont students continue to progress in comparison to other states and nations,” said Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca. “But I am particularly concerned that we still have not made major progress in closing the achievement gap for students living in poverty, which is why the agency will continue to work closely with Gov. Shumlin to implement and expand effective strategies such as pre-K, personalized learning plans and dual enrollment, which research tells us will help close this gap.”
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