Results released today from a national sample of the reading and math skills of fourth and eighth graders shows Iowa overall scored above the national average. The results from the National Assessment for Education Progress though showed mixed results comparing Iowa scores to the last test in 2003. There was a small drop in reading scores — but math scores did increase slightly for fourth grade, and stayed the same for eighth grade.
The Director of the Iowa Department of Education, Judy Jeffrey, says the N-A-E-P uses different assessment methods than the state, but the results are good news. She says they’re most pleased with some of the achievement gains for students that they traditionally have not done well with. Jeffrey says those groups include Hispanic, African Americans and low income students. Jeffrey says Iowa schools use the results along with local data to address the areas where they have concerns. She says 30-percent of the items now on N-A-E-P are algebra and she says they’ve been promoting the fact that students should not leave high school without a strong background in algebra. She says these tests demonstrate the dedication to that.
The overall score for students in Iowa was 221 — higher than the national average of 217 — but down from the 2003 average of 223. The eighth grade reading average for Iowa was 267 and the national average was 260. The Iowa score in 2003 was 268. The fourth grade reading average was 221, down from 223 in 2003, but above the national of 217. Fourth graders averaged a 240 score on the math tests, with the national average 237 and the 2003 Iowa score was 238. Iowa eighth graders scored an average of 284 on the math tests, the same as 2003, but higher than the national average score of 278. The N-A-E-P tests a sample of kids nationwide, including 263 in 161 Iowa districts.
Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle, a republican candidate for governor, released a statement saying the N-A-E-P test results are “a further reminder that Iowa education is not where it used to be.” He says Iowa trailed Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin in all four categories and that is simply not good enough for a state once recognized as number one for its academic achievement. Nussle says with the global competition we face, Iowa must set the standard for world class education.