Nation’s Report Card: How Did Pennsylvania Schools Do?

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released “The Nation’s Report Card,” looking at students’ performance on the National Assessement of Educational Programs, or NAEP, in 2011. 

In Pennsylvania, 4th grade students did slightly better in reading and math, while 8th grade students did slightly worse in both, compared with 2009 results.  Despite dramatic increases in school spending, average scores over the past decade have been effectively flat, as the charts below illustrate.

NAEP Pennsylvania Reading 2011

The NAEP is used to compare performance across states, as each state has their own standardized test.  Pennsylvania’s exam, the PSSA, is considered to be much less rigorous than the NAEP, with about 80 percent more students testing proficient.

Indeed, the NAEP results show that more than 60 percent of Pennsylvania 8th graders — three out of of every five students — are not proficient in reading or math. Moreover, the Nation’s Report Card shows large racial and income achievement gaps.

Percent of Pennsylvania Students Scoring “Proficient” or Better, 2011
Reading Math
4th  8th 4th  8th
All Students 41% 38% 48% 39%
White 47% 46% 56% 47%
Black 19% 13% 17% 9%
Hispanic 17% 16% 20% 22%
Low Income 24% 20% 26% 20%
Source: Nation’s Report Card:

And yet defenders of the status quo says the system is doing just fine.