NECAP scores improve but many students still struggle in math

THE 2012 New England Common Assessment Program test scores showed overall improvement at most grade levels, but found that roughly 20 percent of all Rhode Island students tested were "substantially below proficient" in math.
Posted 2/8/13

PROVIDENCE – The 2012 New England Common Assessment Program test scores showed significant improvement from 2008 to 2012 in both reading and mathematics proficiency levels, with less significant improvements from 2011 to 2012.

For all NECAP results, according to a R.I. Department of Education report released Friday, the only category that saw a statistically significant decrease for any time period was third grade reading proficiency, which dropped 2 percentage points to 70 percent from 2011 to 2012.

In October 2012, 104,678 Rhode Island students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 participated in a total of 17 NECAP tests in reading, writing and mathematics.

Reading proficiency showed statistically significant increases from both the state’s fifth and 11th graders. Fifth grade reading proficiency increased 3 percentage points to 72 percent between 2011 and 2012, and 11th grade reading proficiency rose 2 percentage points to 79 percent during the same period.

Reading proficiency for the state’s fourth and seventh grade students dropped 1 percentage point each year over year, but the decline was deemed not statistically significant in the NECAP report. Fourth graders saw reading proficiency decline to 69 percent and seventh graders saw it drop to 71 percent.

The state’s sixth and eighth graders showed no change in reading proficiency between 2011 and 2012.

Rhode Island’s scores on the math tests improved significantly for grades 7 and 11, but fell for grade 3 by a less than statistically amount, RIDE said.

Math proficiency in the state’s seventh graders rose 2 percentage points to 59 percent from 2011 to 2012.

And although the percentage of 11th graders proficient in math increased 4 percentage points to 34 percent between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of those deemed proficient stood at 34 percent, which was 24 points below the level achieved by eighth graders, the largest drop between grade levels for either math or reading.

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of third graders proficient in mathematics dropped 1 percentage point to 59 percent.

Math proficiency was unchanged year over year for grade 4 (62 percent), grade 5 (62 percent), grade 6 (62 percent) and grade 8 (58 percent).

Although math proficiency increased or remained the same for most grade levels, all grades reported 20 percent or more of its students as “substantially below proficient” in math. The only exception was the state’s fourth graders, which reported 17 percent of its students as below proficient. Forty percent of 11th graders were deemed substantially below proficient in math in 2012.

Over the five-year period, the biggest gains were seen in eighth grade reading proficiency (12 percentage points), 11th grade reading proficiency (9 percentage points) and sixth, seventh and 11th grade math proficiency (all of which increased 7 percentage points).

Most student groups some “notable achievement gains” in reading and math over the past five years, according to the report. In reading, black, Hispanic and white students improved 6, 6 and 5 percentage points, respectively, since 2008. In math, black, Hispanic and white students improved 5, 6 and 6 percentage points, respectively, during the same period.

And for the first time since 2007, Rhode Island results for math and reading in 11th grade were higher than for both New Hampshire and Vermont children.

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