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August 10, 2022

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Report: Nevada students making slight gains on national test

Nevada students have improved their math and reading test scores, but are still performing below the national average, according to a federal report released Tuesday.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress — also known as the Nation’s Report Card — tests fourth- and eighth-grade students every two years in a variety of subjects, including math and reading.

Since 2003 — when the test was first administered to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico — Nevada students have made gains on the national average test scores, which have been rising. This year, Nevada’s scores were below the national average by between three to five points in math and by six to seven points in reading.

Nevada ranks in the bottom quarter of states in test scores, according to Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault.

Click to enlarge photo

Keith Rheault

However, in the past eight years, Nevada has moved into the top quarter of states making significant test score improvements, he said.

“The improvements have been steady, not spectacular, but over the past eight years, they have added up to quite a bit,” Rheault said in a statement.

Here are a few key findings:

• In reading, 26 percent of Nevada eighth-graders tested proficient or higher, a 4 percentage point increase from 2009. In the fourth grade, 25 percent of students were proficient or higher, a slight increase from the 24 percent two years ago.

• In math, 29 percent of Nevada eighth-graders tested proficient or higher, 4 percentage points higher than two years prior. In the fourth grade, 36 percent of students were proficient or higher, an increase of 4 percentage points from 2009.

• The gap between the top quarter of students and the bottom quarter of Nevada students has not changed in eight years.

• The achievement gap between white students and black and Hispanic students in Nevada has persisted. White students scored between 21 and 33 points higher than black and Hispanic students in math and reading. This was disappointing, Rheault said, because nationally, Hispanic eighth-graders narrowed the gap with white students between 2009 and 2011 in both math and reading.

• In math, there was no achievement gap between Nevada’s male and female students; however, in reading, female students scored on average 6 points higher than male students in the fourth grade. In the eighth grade, female students scored on average 12 points higher than male students.

• The achievement gap between students of low income and higher income persists in Nevada. Students who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches scored between 19 and 25 points lower than their more affluent counterparts.

• Nationally, fourth- and eighth-graders continued to improve in math, posting the highest scores to date on the NAEP test. However, in reading, while the average score for eighth-graders improved, the average score for fourth-graders remained stagnant from 2009.

Overall, Rheault said he was pleased. Despite having the highest unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rate in the nation, Nevada has managed to show steady improvements in test scores. However, Rheault said he is “still far from satisfied.”

“These improvements during tough times show we are beating some of the odds, but we are still pretty far from where we ought to be.”

The test is mandated by Congress and overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. It is the largest nationally representative assessment of what students have learned. In 2011, about 209,000 fourth graders and 175,200 eighth graders were tested in math, and 213,100 fourth graders and 168,200 eighth graders were tested in reading.

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