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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02

NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: JANUARY 10, 2002

NORTH CAROLINA SINGLED OUT FOR MATH IMPROVEMENT ON NATION'S REPORT CARD

A new report by the National Education Goals Panel ranks North Carolina among the five states showing the most improvement at both fourth and eighth grade on mathematics tests in 2000. North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Texas and Virginia showed improvements in five of seven categories of data analyzed from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The report, Raising Achievement and Reducing Gaps: Reporting Progress Toward Goals for
Academic Achievement in Mathematics
, examined the change in NAEP fourth and eighth grade mathematics scores at the state level. This analysis also provides new information on achievement based on economic status, race and the best and poorest performing students.

At fourth grade, the Panel found that only two states, North Carolina and Georgia, reduced the gap between White and minority scores from 1992 to 2000. The minority scores are a combination of scores for Black and Hispanic students.

The report concluded that overall, "results from the 2000 NAEP mathematics assessment are encouraging. In the nation and in the majority of participating states, achievement is increasing for students at all levels of performance."

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that while the results are encouraging, especially for North Carolina, too many students are still not proficient and the gaps in achievement are still too large. "We must continue to press for more intervention to help all students reach higher levels of academic performance. The focus in our state is paying off in improved performance and we have to continue our efforts."

State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk said this report, as others have done, shows that North Carolina's trends are in the right direction. "Other states and the nation are constantly asking us how we've made such terrific progress in student achievement. It's the result of a lot of hard work, focus and commitment by schools and support from legislators and communities. We all should share in the success just as we must all continue our hard work to continue to improve our schools."

Public school fourth graders in North Carolina and Connecticut showed improvement in six of the seven categories examined. Nine other states and the nation showed improvement in five of the seven categories.

In fourth grade between the 1992 and 2000 administrations of the math assessment, North Carolina actually improved in average scores, bottom quartile of students, top quartile of students, percent of students scoring proficient, closing the quartile gap, and the white/minority gap closing. At this grade, the only segment in North Carolina that was unchanged was closing the gap between free/non-free lunch students.

In grade eight, North Carolina was one of eight states showing improvement in five of the seven categories examined from 1990 to 2000. Other states were Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

North Carolina showed the following improvements at grade eight between 1990 and 2000: average scores, bottom quartile of students, top quartile, percent of students scoring proficient, and closing the quartile gap. Areas that were unchanged were closing the white/minority gap and closing the gap for free/non-free lunch students.

A total of 36 states and jurisdictions participated in state level NAEP math assessments at grade 4 in both 1992 and 2000. Thirty-one states and jurisdictions participated in NAEP math assessments in both 1990 and 2000. The Goals Panel analysis examined the state-by-state change over time in scores.

The majority of states and the nation showed statistically significant positive changes in average scores, the scores for the top and bottom quartiles of students and in the percent of students scoring at the proficient level or higher. States and the nation were less successful in closing gaps between the top and bottom quartiles of students. There was almost no progress in closing the gaps between the scores of majority and minority students or between the scores of students eligible and not eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

The analysis looks at the change in a state's average score; the change in scores for students in the bottom or lowest scoring quartile; the change in scores for students in the top or highest scoring quartile; and at the change in the percentage of students scoring at the proficient level or higher on the NAEP math assessments. The report also provides comparisons of the change in the gap between students in the top and bottom quartiles; the change in the gap between minority and majority student scores; and the change in the gap between the scores of students who are not eligible for free or reduced price lunch and those who are eligible.

NAEP math scores were released Aug. 2 by the U.S. Department of Education. North Carolina's fourth and eighth grade students topped the national and regional average scores. The average scale score for fourth grade students in North Carolina was 232, six points higher than the national average of 226 and exceeding the Southeast region's score of 220 by 12 points. North Carolina's eighth grade students achieved an average scale score of 280. This score was six points higher than the national average of 274 and exceeds the Southeast region's score of 265 by 15 points (to read more about the results released Aug. 2, go to: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/newsroom/news/2000-01/080201.1).

To see the new National Goals Panel analysis of NAEP math assessments, go to http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/negp/ or contact the National Education Goals Panel, Eugenie Devine, at 202.842.3600, ext. 229, or DPI Communications at 919.807.3450.

Note to media: NAEP is a sample of students from participating states so local school system scores are not available.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 107 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communications and Information, 919.807.3450.