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Arizona Student Test Scores Remain Stagnant in National Assessment

Author: Helios Education Foundation

April 11, 2018

After a delay due to a transition from paper-and-pencil to digital testing, highly anticipated 2017 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores were released on Tuesday. With the exception of 4th grade math, Arizona maintained gains made in the 2015 administration of the NAEP with relatively unchanging scores. At the same time, Arizona continues to lag behind the nation in most areas.

"Overall, national scores on the 2017 administration of the NAEP remained mostly flat, except for a two point increase in eighth grade reading," said Paul Perrault, Vice President of Research and Evaluation at Helios Education Foundation.  "Similarly, in Arizona, overall student scores showed little movement with the exception of a drop in fourth grade math scores.  However, one bright spot is an increase in Native American student's performance in eighth grade reading and fourth and eighth grade math."

With the exception of 8th grade math, Arizona continues to lag behind the nation in terms of the percent of students achieving a score of proficient or higher. Based on most recent results, the percent of 4th and 8th grade students in Arizona and nationally scoring at or above proficient in reading and math are as follows: 

When examining the percentage of Arizona students scoring proficient or higher by race/ethnicity, most groups showed declines across both subjects and grades from 2015 to 2017. Black students experienced the steepest drop in proficiency rates in 4th grade reading and math. Furthermore, White students continued to outperform their minority peers with little to no progress in closing achievement gaps. In addition, it should be noted that Arizona continues to see an upward trend in overall growth when compared to other states, however, we still have significant work to do to ensure our students reach higher levels of proficiency in math and reading.  

"The most recent NAEP results highlight the fact that, while Arizona is making progress in some areas, many of our students are still not performing academically and our achievement gap is continuing to grow," said Vince Yanez, Senior Vice President, Arizona Community Engagement at Helios Education Foundation.  "These data should raise alarm bells for all of us and continue to motivate us to focus on increasing student achievement and closing the achievement gap between White and minority students in our state."  

The NAEP exam is administered by the National Center for Educational Statistics to a representative sample of randomly selected students across all 50 states and is considered a national gauge of academic achievement.  Click here to see more information about NAEP scores by state.  

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