Kentucky’s 4th graders and 8th graders continue to outperform their peers nationally in reading and are on par or slightly below the national average in mathematics according to data released today from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The 2013 data indicate:

• In both 4th- and 8th-grade reading, Kentucky students scored above the national average for public school students.
• In 4th grade mathematics, Kentucky students scored the same as the national average.  The average score was unchanged from 2011.
• In 8th grade mathematics, the average score of Kentucky students was not significantly different from their average score in 2011 but was up 24 points from their score in 1990.
• Kentucky’s results have remained steady over the past few years, with minor gains and losses. Since 1998, Kentucky’s 4th graders have gained 6 points on the NAEP reading assessment, and 8th graders also have gained 8 points. Since 2000, Kentucky’s 4th graders have gained 20 points on the NAEP mathematics assessment, and 8th graders have gained 11 points.

In an effort for NAEP scores to more accurately reflect the achievement of all Kentucky students, the Kentucky Department of Education encouraged schools to include students in 2013 NAEP testing who, in the past, may have been excluded from the test, based on teacher recommendations using students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

This year, in accordance with NAEP rules, many more students with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency (LEP) completed the test without special assistance or accommodation.  NAEP does not allow all the accommodations Kentucky students are allowed on the state’s tests. (For information on NEP accommodations, see

“Kentucky has made great strides in being more inclusive — essentially reducing the exclusion rates by as much as two-thirds from 2011 while not significantly impacting results,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.  “Typically, there is as much as a 30 percent difference in the scores of students with special needs and those without, so while we would have liked to have seen increases, the fact that Kentucky achievement levels are holding steady is actually not bad news. As we move forward, we need to focus on not only increased student achievement but also on closing the gaps among all students.”

The NAEP grading scale ranges from 0 to 500. Students’ performance on NAEP fits into one of four categories: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient or Advanced. In Kentucky, in reading, 72 percent of 4th graders and 80 percent of 8th graders scored at the Basic level or above. In mathematics, 83 percent of 4th graders and 71 percent of 8th graders scored at the Basic level or above.

NAEP was first administered in 2003 under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. Under NCLB, states applying for Title I funds must indicate that they plan to participate in NAEP. In 2013, all 50 states, along with the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools, participated in the NAEP reading and mathematics assessments.
For more than 40 years, NAEP has been the country’s only nationally representative and continuing survey of students’ educational achievement. The assessment is authorized by Congress, directed by the National Center for Education Statistics and developed by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, New Jersey. Westat, Inc. of Rockville, Maryland, conducts sample selection and data collection.

NAEP protects the confidentiality of students, teachers and schools that participate by not reporting individual student, teacher or school data. NAEP provides results for major demographic groups, and states that meet NAEP reporting criteria are able to compare their results with both national results and the results of other states.
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