How Kansas Compares to the Nation’s Public Schools on NAEP

How Kansas Compares to the Nation’s Public Schools on NAEP

Introduction

The 2017 NAEP results were made available this week, so many
are digging through the data to try and make sense of what it might tell
us.  This article is another attempt to
do just that.
KASB is frequently asked to speak to how Kansas students are
doing.  It would make sense to answer
this question by comparing Kansas public school students to all public school
students in the nation, and to focus not on the scores and percentages themselves,
but on how much above or below the nation Kansas students perform. 
Therefore, for this analysis, I am presenting the difference
between the Mean Scores, Percent at Basic or Above, and Percent at Proficient
and Above on the 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math exams
for Kansas public school students and the scores and percentages for all public
school student nationwide.
There are student subgroups worth investigating, such as
students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch versus those who are not
eligible.  Though this article focuses on
all students, further analysis may delve into these subgroups.

Mean Scores

The following graph shows the difference in mean scores
between Kansas and the nation’s public schools on the four exams.

As can be seen, in terms of mean scores, Kansas students
have had consistently higher mean scores than the national average for public
school students with the exception of the 4th grade reading test in
2015.  However, the number of points
above the national average has been declining since 2005.  That is, until 2017, when the number of
points above the national average increased for all tests except for the 8th
grade reading exam, which is also the only exam that saw an increase in the
number of points Kansas is above the nation in 2015.
This data suggests that though Kansas has been “losing it’s
lead” on the nation for several years, this trend may be reversing as of the
2017 results in terms of mean (average) scores.

Percent at Basic or Above

The following graph shows the difference in the percent of
students performing at Basic or above between Kansas and the nation’s public
schools on the four exams.
Similar to the mean scores, this data shows that the percent
of Kansas public school students performing at Basic or above has been
consistently above the national percentage (except for 4th grade
reading in 2015), but Kansas’ lead has been declining since at least 2009.
For 4th grade, the number of percentage points
above the national percent increased from 2015 to 2017, suggesting a reversal
in the trend.  For 8th grade,
Kansas’ lead decreased slightly for Math, and more noticeably for Reading.

Percent at Proficient or Above

The following graph shows the difference in the percent of
students performing at Proficient or above between Kansas and the nation’s
public schools on the four exams.
As with the other two metrics, the percent of Kansas students
performing at or above Proficient has been consistently higher than the percent
of public school students nationally.  The
number of percentage points above the national average has been generally on
the decline since 2005.
However, for 4th and 8th grade math
and 4th grade reading, the number of percentage points above the
national average increased for Kansas public schools, and the 8th
grade reading number declined only slightly. 

Conclusion

This brief analysis suggests that the last decade has seen a
change in the performance of Kansas public school students when compared to public
school students nationwide, with Kansas students continuing to outperform the
nation, but losing their lead in each subsequent testing year.  However, the 2017 data suggest that there may
be a change in this trend, with Kansas students starting to push ahead further
than their peers in other states to a greater extent than in 2015. 
With new funding for Kansas public schools, we can only hope
that this new trend continues.