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Tennessee

In Shelby County Schools, pride about NAEP results, concerns about gaps

Students at Ford Road Elementary School, in Shelby County Schools' Innovation Zone, walk down the hallway on Thursday. The school's test scores have gone up dramatically since it entered the I-Zone. Last Thursday, as state politicians and educators celebrated the state's performance on the NAEP, or National Assessment of Educational Progress, 6th graders at Colonial Middle School, an arts-focused school, were discussing data day, a regular part of the school's cycle during which students in the middle school graph and track their performance in all of their classes. "We can keep up with our grades," said Ariel Amos, one of the students. "The graphs help." Each student has a folder with a chart for each course; high scores were colored in with green colored pencil, while lower scores were colored in with yellow or red. That focus on data and accountability was one of the policy emphases state officials cited to explain Tennessee students' growth on on the 4th and 8th grade math and reading tests: Scores went up more than in any other state in the country this year. While NAEP scores aren't broken down by school or by district, educators in Shelby County schools said they'd seen improvements in many local schools that lined up with the increase in NAEP results. "NAEP is a good measuring stick to compare Tennessee to other states," said Antonio Burt, the principal at Ford Road Elementary School. "Tennessee has put emphasis on Common Core and teacher work. By Tennessee starting early and being proactive, now you're seeing dividends."
Indiana

Indiana's big test score gains prompt debate over cause

Indiana fourth graders made big gains on a national test, which released scores today. Indiana fourth graders made big gains on a national test of reading and math known as the "nation's report card," according to data released today. Indiana's 2013 gains were top five among the 50 states on both fourth grade reading and math. Eighth graders posted smaller gains in both reading and math. Hoosier test takers scored above the national average on all four exams administered. "“I am encouraged by the gains that Hoosier students showed on these tests, particularly their gains in the fourth grade," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said in a statement. "This is yet another sign of the hard work and dedication exhibited by our educators, administrators, parents, and most importantly, students every day in our schools.” The state's success instantly renewed debate about reforms pushed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels and ex-state Superintendent Tony Bennett over four years beginning in 2008. Bennett was defeated in the 2012 election in a stunning upset by current state Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, said Bennett's fight for reform may have cost him his job but it appears to have yielded improvements. "I think we're starting to see results," said Eric A. Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. "These battles are hard-fought, and if we didn't see any results, then we might wonder if it's worth it." Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, attributed the gains to standards reform in the early 2000s, specifically rejecting Bennett and Daniels' policies as a reason for the improvement.
New York

As in most districts, city students' scores on national test are flat

A slide from a Department of Education presentation about the city's NAEP scores New York City students posted essentially flat scores on a national exam considered the most accurate measure of student progress. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as NAEP, or the nation’s report card, is given every two years to fourth- and eighth-graders across the country. Statewide results, which came out last month, showed that New York was one of just two states to post significant score drops. In local results released today, city students bucked that trend. Their scores stayed flat or rose or fell by degrees that are not statistically significant. District-level results were released today for 21 districts across the country that participate in a more detailed study. Only one of the districts, North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg, posted significant gains in reading, and nine districts showed significant gains in math. Still, only about a third of city fourth-graders met or exceeded NAEP's benchmark for proficiency in reading and math, about half as many as who met proficiency standards on this year's state tests. It was the discrepancy between state test scores and NAEP results that triggered state officials to acknowledge last year that the state’s test scores were inflated. On this year's NAEP exam, New York City students' reading scores dropped by three points, the same as statewide. Eighth-graders' math scores fell by one point, less than the three points that scores across the state declined this year. Fourth-graders' reading scores didn't change, while eighth-graders' reading scores increased by two points, more than the single point gain experienced statewide and nationally. None of the city's shifts since 2009 were considered statistically significant. But gains in fourth- and eighth-grade math scores and fourth-grade reading scores since 2002, when the district's performance was first measured, are still up significantly.
New York

Bucking national trend, some New York students slip on NAEP