Kentucky’s math and reading test scores show continued growth and, in some instances, exceed the national average, according to test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The scores released this week measure 4th and 8th graders nationwide and Kentucky shows promise when compared to its peers.
That may be attributed to the education reforms made in 1990, said University of Louisville professor Sam Stringfield. They were likely the most successful state reforms of the last 20 years, he said.
“And that the state has gone from being below the national average on all these measures, to virtually at or sometimes slightly above the national average, when you consider that we are still economically below the national average is really quite an accomplishment,” said Stringfield.
Earlier this year the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) reported around two-thirds of students are proficient in reading. NAEP says that number is closer to one third. But Stringfield says this is normal.
“And what is consistent across all 50 states, is that a higher percentage of students score at the proficient level on the state tests than on the NAEP tests,” said Stringfield.
Kentucky will be changing its state testing this year. KDE’s Lisa Gross said she expects scores in reading and math to drop slightly this year, while schools adjust to the changes.
The largest improvements in Kentucky over the past decade have been in math scores, while the state’s reading scores have increased slowly, mirroring a national trend that doesn’t meet the approval of educators.
Others critics observe the disparity between average scores and scores for minority and low-income students, which remains consistently lower.
But Kentucky should be proud with the progress it has made, said Stringfield. Where Kentucky was once behind, now it’s ahead, he said.