Connecticut 12th graders lead the nation in reading proficiency

According to results from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Connecticut high school seniors lead the nation in reading, and among the top four states when it comes to math proficiency.

Twelfth graders in 13 states participated in the assessment, administered between January and March of 2013, including students from more than 100 Connecticut high schools across 84 school districts.

Approximately 2,400 Connecticut 12th graders took the math test and 2,500 took the reading test.

NAEP, also known as "the nation's report card," is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of students' knowledge in reading and math on a state-by-state basis.

The results of the 2013 assessment were based on average scale scores and the percent of students at or above proficient in math and reading.

Connecticut, which also participated in the 2009 NAEP, showed improvement in reading proficiency scores over the last four years.

Reading

According to the NAEP results, the average reading score of Connecticut 12th graders in 2013 was 299, which was higher than the average score of 287 for public school students in the nation. It was also higher than Connecticut's 2009 score of 292.

Around 50% of Connecticut students scored at or above the proficient level for reading in 2013, compared to 43% in 2009.

Math

According to the NAEP results, the average math score of Connecticut 12th graders in 2013 was 160, which was higher than the average score of 152 for public school students in the nation. It was also higher than Connecticut's 2009 score of 156.

In 2013, 32% of Connecticut students scored at or above the proficient level for math. In 2009, 29% scored at or above the proficient level.

Student groups

The results from the 2013 NAEP also showed that Connecticut's achievement gap between black and white students is narrowing in reading proficiency. In 2013, black students in Connecticut had an average reading score that was 27 points lower than white student — nine points narrower than the performance gap in 2009.

According to a press release from Gov. Dannel Malloy's office, "This is the first time that, in Connecticut, the black-white gap narrowed by a statistically significant amount in any grade across two consecutive NAEP administrations."

View the NAEP Reading 2013 Snapshot Report for Connecticut here.

"In reading, Connecticut stands at the very top of the nation — and stands alone. Our state's education system has performed better than any of its peers, including those of neighboring states which historically and consistently have eclipsed our performance," said Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor.

"That is an enormously encouraging and truly noteworthy achievement."

Since Connecticut adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, Mr. Pryor said, educators in the state "have been working to deliver on the promise of higher expectations and more rigorous academic standards."

Mr. Pryor also gave credit to Gov. Malloy and the General Assembly for their increased investment in the public education.

With state funding, the governor and the General Assembly fully restored the $269.5 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal funding designated for education that ended in 2011-12 and "left a hole in the education budget," according to Gov. Malloy's May 6 press release.

Additionally, nearly $150 million additional dollars have been "directed to help Connecticut's districts reach higher, more rigorous standards and improve outcomes for students" over the past three years through the Alliance District program.

Despite increases in academic rigor, funding and accountability — contributing factors to Connecticut's improved performance, according to Gov. Malloy, "the achievement gaps remain wide among subgroups of the student population."

In 2013, Hispanic students in Connecticut had an average score that was 29 points lower than white students, but this gap was not significantly different from the 27-point performance gap in 2009.

View the NAEP Math 2013 Snapshot Report for Connecticut here.

Black students in Connecticut had an average math score that was 31 points lower than white students, which was not significantly different from the 33-point gap in 2009.

Hispanic students in Connecticut had an average math score that was 27 points lower than white students, which also was not significantly different from the 32-point gap in 2009.

According to Gov. Malloy's press release, compared to Connecticut, there are participating states with smaller achievement gaps "in every area of comparison among racial and economic comparisons."

Although the NAEP results are what Mr. Pryor referred to as "worthy of celebration," he said "many challenges lie ahead."

"Our achievement gaps are still too wide and we must redouble our efforts to address these disparities," said Mr. Pryor.

"Overall, we must remain committed to our reforms and our investments in order to strengthen our state's position as we enter the era of higher standards and higher expectations in earnest.”

View the full 2013 NAEP results here.