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What NAEP Results Tell Us About Parent Power

The release of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Math and Reading scores yesterday showed little to no progress for students in 4th and 8th grade. When diving into the online resources, some subgroups did have gains, while others fared worse. Hispanic students in both grades made two point gains since 2011. Eighth-grade Asian/Pacific Islander students and American Indian/Alaska Native students made four point gains. African-American students had the lowest percentage of students achieving proficiency in math, not even reaching 20 percent. Since 2007, 8th grade reading scores have only increased by five points. To save you the time of digging through all of the tables, charts and maps, we’ve summarized these key Math and Reading findings.

When examining student progress for both grade levels in math and reading since 2011, we see that the Top Ten States on the Parent Power Index posted achievement gains, remained higher than the national average, or are on par with their 2011 scores. So what does this mean for parents and policymakers?

Let’s look at the District of Columbia as a case study. While DC had overall scores lower than the national average, students saw the largest improvements because meaningful reforms in the nation’s capital are helping all schools improve.

The correlation between the positive ripple effect of charter schools and overall achievement was most pronounced in the District of Columbia, where DC fourth graders improved seven points in math and five points in reading. Eighth graders similarly improved, showing five and six point gains in math and reading, respectively.

These scores are also confirmation that the improvements seen in the DC-CAS scores in both public traditional and charter schools were no fluke, and these gains are here to stay as long as District leaders stay on this current course of reform.

Nearly 45% of DC’s public school students are in charter schools, about 2,000 students participate in a small but very popular voucher program, and modest reforms addressing tenure and tying teacher evaluations to performance pay are paying off. There’s still a tremendous amount of progress to be made in DC and across the country, but a closer look at NAEP shows progress is possible when parents have access to options and data, and when schools are held accountable for student achievement.

Alison Consoletti Zgainer is Executive Vice President of The Center for Education Reform

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