For those of you caught up in the excitement of the 2nd place finish of Florida’s 4th graders in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), here’s a bit of cold water – results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). And since we focus here on the science and engineering pipeline, we’ll look at the percentages of students rated “proficient” in math, science, and (yes!) reading in the 4th and 8th grades. (NAEP gives four “achievement levels” – “below basic”, “basic”, “proficient”, and “advanced”.)
First, math (from the 2011 testing cycle).
We compare Florida’s students not only to the national averages but also to Massachusetts, which is the leading state in most categories. Florida’s 4th graders are behind the national rate in proficiency, and that gap widens at the 8th grade level. Massachusetts is in a different universe from Florida.
The science results (2011 for 8th grade, 2009 for 4th grade) tell the same story:
Once again, Florida’s 4th graders are behind the nation, and the gap widens by 8th grade. Massachusetts remains in that different universe.
And now here is something I haven’t done before – look at reading (from the 2011 administration):
Florida’s 4th graders are a bit above the national rate of proficiency, but once again Massachusetts is far ahead. Florida’s 8th graders are far behind the nation in the rate of proficiency, and light-years behind Massachusetts.
I have no idea what PIRLS measures, but it’s certainly telling a different story from NAEP.