The biggest news in Nevada education over the last two decades happened this week and nobody is talking about it.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the most important test in the US. Math and reading tests are administered in 4th and 8th grades nationally. The test is developed and administered by the US Department of Education and the NAEP was first started in 1969.
This week they released the 2019 results.
But before we review the results, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
In 2013, the Nevada Legislature implemented the Zoom schools program to support English language acquisition for early childhood English language learners (students for whom English is a second language).
In 2015, the Nevada Legislature expanded the categorical funding programs available to schools.
In 2017, funding was reauthorized to the tune of over a QUARTER BILLION DOLLARS with a heavy focus on early literacy.
So what happened???
For the first time EVER, Nevada 4th graders are performing at the same level as their national peers!
Let’s say that again:
There is no significant difference in reading achievement for Nevada 4th graders and their national peers!
Only 3 states in the nation have made more progress than Nevada in 4th grade reading achievement over the last decade.
Nevada’s 4th graders are improving SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the national average!
Here’s a list of all the the states and their change in 4th grade reading from 2009 to 2019. That’s Nevada up there by the top!
But wait… there’s more!
When looking at assessment results and comparing them across states context matters. Recognizing the trauma that can come with poverty and the obstacles with not speaking English is extremely important context when looking at results being achieved at our schools.
Luckily, a tool was developed to help do that: http://apps.urban.org/features/naep/
This tool was developed by researchers Matt Chingos and Kristin Blagg at the Urban Institute. The Urban Institute is a policy think tank that was founded by Lyndon Johnson in 1968. They employ hundreds of social scientists, statisticians, analysts, and economists.
And they say, “A better way to compare and talk about NAEP performance is to use adjusted NAEP scores that account for demographic differences across students in each state”.
Well take a look below. When using adjusted NAEP scores that take into account demographics differences across states, Nevada ranks in the top 10 in the NATION!
If you look at that smaller chart to the right in the image above that blue line tracks Nevada’s national ranking when using adjusted NAEP scores. As you can see we have been improving since 2007 and are now in the top 10 in the US!
In fact, Matt Chingos, the researcher who built that tool made a composite rank in improvement in adjusted NAEP scores since 2017 and Nevada has the 4th highest gains in the country!
But wait… there’s more!
There were just as amazing gains in the Clark County School District. Now that CCSD reports NAEP results as a district we can compare them to other large urban districts around the country.
And CCSD students are significantly outperforming students from 14 of the 26 districts that report NAEP results. This is amazing progress!
If you’re a business owner, or you know a business owner, thinking of moving the company to New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, instead of Las Vegas, that’s fine but you’ll notice in the map below that your employees’ kids will get a better education in Vegas!
And your company Christmas party will be a lot more fun here too!
It’s also important to recognize that we can simultaneously believe we have more improvements to make in education while also celebrating the successes that have been achieved.
And that leaves one important question:
What’s the cause of all these improvements?
We can’t determine causation from NAEP scores alone, but there is one thing we do know for sure…
There are a lot of people to thank!
Thank you to every teacher who never gives up and works tirelessly to ensure every student has an opportunity at a better life.
Thank you to every administrator who is fighting and advocating for their students and staff.
Thank you to every parent who supports is their child and nurtures their development.
And thank you to every community member who continues to believe and invest in Nevada students.
Your relentless pursuit to create a better education system is paying off!
Join the conversation on Twitter and thank someone publicly who has contributed to these amazing gains: https://twitter.com/DataInsightPart/status/1190280318323814400