BOISE – Idaho students made no significant improvements in math and reading scores, according to the latest Nation’s Report Card released Tuesday.
Fourth-graders showed no improvements in math or reading, while eighth-graders’ scores stayed flat in math but slightly improved in reading.
The results come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The exams, given to a cross-section of students nationwide every two years, are considered one of the most reliable ways of comparing academic performance across the state. The test has been administered since 1992.
Roughly 40 percent of Idaho’s fourth-grade students are proficient in math and reading. For eighth-grade students, 35 percent are proficient in math and 39 percent are proficient in reading.
Overall, Idaho’s students scored just a little higher than the national average.
“Our educators are working hard to improve student learning, and it is encouraging to see positive progress in some areas,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said in a statement.
Ybarra downplayed Idaho’s general stagnant scores, instead saying that the scores show the state is “holding steady” and that it falls in line with the national average.
Those nationwide average scores, however, sparked concern from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday. She said the stagnating reading and math scores shows that the country needs to do better for its students.
In eighth grade, the average reading score for Idaho was 270 out of 500, one point higher than in 2015, and four points higher than when the reading test was administered in 2002. The national average was 267.
For math, the average score was 284, which was two points higher than the national average but the same score as two years before.
The results show that racial disparities persist. Hispanic students were out-performed by their white peers at both grade levels.
Ybarra said her department plans on looking into Idaho’s English language learners cohort and partner with the state’s Hispanic Commission to find ways to learn more about possible solutions to boost those scores.