by Richard Long
The National Assessment Governing Board released a new National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) report entitled Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation. This report did not report any new data but rather provided a new look at the data in these five states by looking at trends in reading, mathematics and science going back to the 1990’s. The five “mega-states” of California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois represent over 1/3rd of the nation’s students.
Trends in Reading
The trends indicate a significant improvement in reading in the 4th grade in Florida with a 16 scaled point improvement over twenty years as compared to a 5 point national improvement.
Demographics and Funding
The report, which contains significant data on these states, shows a significant shift in the demographics of the nation with a high percentage of the shifts being seen in these large states. The report also contains information on as much as a ten percent drop in state funding over the last several years.
A Need for Guidance in Interpretation
While the report provides many points of data analysis, it isn’t clear on several points. One of the points is how changes in student populations should be looked at and then factored into a greater understanding on how the data points should be interpreted. The report also isn’t as clear in how changes in state policies over the twenty years that these data points were collected may have impacted the results. Additionally, it isn’t clear from the data if the changes that were shown to be statistically significant were more the result of the starting points being lower than other states and as a result easier to attain.
However, while there are areas that the report doesn’t cover, it is a rich statistical trove of information that will be useful for future analysis.
Richard Long is the director of government relations at the International Reading Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.