The Report Card Is In
The 2013 results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, have been made public. These results, published in a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, are derived from standardized tests in math and reading, given to fourth- and eighth-grade students across the country. Amongst many valuable statistics, the report includes the percent of students receiving scores that rate their achievement as “basic” or “proficient.” For example, basic is defined as “partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills.”
Research shows that a country’s or state’s economic prosperity is closely related to the educational attainment of its citizens. And the math scores that eighth graders achieved is actually a fairly good predictor of future economic activity. So, with that in mind, let’s answer the question “how did Missouri’s eighth-grade students fare on the standardized math test in 2013?”
The percentage of eighth-grade students in Missouri scoring at or above basic was, in 2013, 74 percent, right at the national average. But while the national average increased over the past decade (it was 68 percent in 2003), Missouri’s score hasn’t budged much: a decade ago, 71 percent of Missouri eighth graders scored at the basic level in 2003. More troublesome is the fact that the percentage has slipped in recent years. In 2009, 77 percent of Missouri’s eighth graders scored at the basic level.
This recent report indicates that there has been little progress in raising the math skills of Missouri’s eighth-grade students above the basic level. And if you think that improving the record would be difficult, in 2013, 23 states had higher percentages at the basic level than Missouri, nine of which registered percentages in the 80s. Indeed, in Massachusetts, 86 percent of the state’s eighth graders achieved that level of mastery.
Education must remain a priority for state government. Missouri’s leaders must not allow educational achievements attained thus far to wane. As other states demonstrate, our current educational record can be improved. Missourians’ future economic well-being may well depend on it.