NEWS RELEASES 2009-10 :: MARCH 24, 2010


North Carolina fourth graders are reading on par with their peers across the nation while the state's eighth graders' reading scores are slightly below the national average for students at that grade level, according to results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Scores at both grades are consistent with student performance on NAEP in 2007.

North Carolina's fourth graders' scores stayed steady in 2009 as did the nation's when compared to performance in 2007. The average score among the state's fourth graders was 219. Statistically, this is not considered to be significantly different from the national average score of 220. Thirty-three percent of North Carolina fourth graders scored at the Basic level of performance in 2009, and 32 percent were at or above the Proficient level. This compares to 34 percent of the nation's fourth graders at Basic and 31 percent at or above Proficient. In 2007, North Carolina's average fourth grade reading score was 218 and 220 for the nation.

For eighth graders, North Carolina's average scale score was 260 in 2009. This is not considered significantly different from the 2007 average score of 259. In 2009, the state's eighth graders scored below the national average of 262. In 2007, the eighth grade national average was 261. The percentage of students in North Carolina who scored at the Basic level was 41 percent as compared to 43 percent for the nation. The percentage of North Carolina students at or above the Proficient level was 29 percent compared to 30 percent for the nation overall.

At the national level, fourth grade scores increased significantly in 2009 in only three jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Rhode Island) and decreased significantly in four states (Alaska, Iowa, New Mexico, and Wyoming). Nationally, eighth grade scores increased significantly since 2007 in nine states (Utah, New Mexico, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Hawaii and Missouri) and no states showed a decline.

"The NAEP scores show that we have much work to do in reading," said State Superintendent June Atkinson. "While our state's scores are similar to the national average, we are not satisfied with this performance and will be looking at ways to strengthen the quality of reading instruction our students receive at every level, from kindergarten through 12 th grade."

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison said that the use of more diagnostic assessments throughout the school year would be helpful. "One of our goals for the federal Race to the Top funding is to improve diagnostic measures of student learning so that teachers get more frequent feedback to help students when they have difficulties throughout the school year. The NAEP Reading scores show that we can benefit from such an approach."

In addition to reporting scale scores, NAEP also reports the percentage of students at three proficiency levels: Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Students who do not reach the Basic level are considered below Basic. The proficiency level of Basic or above is considered to be similar to North Carolina's proficient level on its end-of-grade tests. The NAEP proficiency levels are set at a very rigorous level and the Proficient level is defined as mastery over challenging subject matter.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress assesses reading in both literary and informational texts. The assessments are given to a sample of North Carolina students selected by the NCES as representative of the state. In 2009, NAEP reading assessments were given to 4,824 North Carolina fourth graders in 190 schools. There were 4,464 North Carolina eighth graders at 153 schools participating.

NAEP results were presented today in fourth and eighth grade reading for all 50 states, the Department of Defense schools, Bureau of Indian Education, and the District of Columbia. Only national and state-level information is available because the NAEP is given to a sample of students in each state. The NAEP tests students in reading, mathematics, science, writing, civics, economics, geography, US History and the arts. Reading and mathematics are the two subjects assessed every two years with state-level results reported.

For more information, please contact the NC Department of Public Instruction's Communications division at 919.807.3450.



Fourth Grade Snapshot
(pdf, 246kb)

Eighth Grade Snapshot
(pdf, 244kb)

Comparison: NC Tests and NAEP
(pdf, 19kb)

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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 Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.