National test scores in reading and math show achievement growth has largely leveled off for Ohio students, much like the rest of the country.
The National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, exam is given every two years to 4th and 8th graders. The test has measured student progress across states since the early 1990s, but in Ohio last year, there wasn’t much progress to be measured.
Scores for Ohio students largely mimicked 2015 results, which Peggy Carr, an assistant commissioner for NAEP, said was also true for the country.
“Scores were not statistically significant in comparison to 2015 except in one case, 8th grade reading,” she said.
Ohio also experienced a slight bump in 8th grade reading results, but a bump that was not deemed statistically significant by test administrators.
Because the test is given in all 50 states and is not aligned to any one set of education standards, NAEP is used as a benchmark to compare states.
In 2017, Ohio ranked 10th in 4th grade reading and 19th in 4th grade math scores, and 17th in 8th grade reading and 11th in 8th grade math results.
But Matt Chingos, director of the national Urban Institute’s Education Policy Program, said NAEP is not an apples-to-apples comparison of states and those rankings may be misleading.
That’s why the Urban Institute, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, DC, takes the results and adjusts them for student demographics.
“Otherwise it would be sort of unfair,” Chingos said. “You’d be unfairly penalizing the states that have students that come from backgrounds that tend to do less well on these tests because they have fewer resources at home or because they didn’t grow up speaking English.”
But when adjusted for things like race and socio-economic status, Ohio’s rankings change at most by two positions, largely keeping Ohio in the top third of all states for NAEP test scores.
The good showing for Ohio, however, didn’t bleed into the only city in the state that is measured by the exam at the district level: Cleveland.
Those district-level results are available for 27 cities.
Among the group, Cleveland ranks in the bottom third for math and reading scores in both grades, even though it saw a small bump in 8th grade math results in 2017.
Even so, Carr said students in large cities like Cleveland might be better off.
“Students in large cities across our nation have made more progress, and this is significantly so, than the students nationwide,” she said.
The 27 cities that received district-level NAEP scores all have populations of more than 250,000, and either majority minority student populations, or majority low-income.