PRESS RELEASE - June 19, 2003
New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

New Mexico’s 4th, 8th Grade NAEP Scores Remain Steady

(Santa Fe, NM)—New Mexico’s 4th and 8th grade student performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment in 2002 remained steady with scores from 1998, according to the NAEP National Report Card, released today. “We are making progress in New Mexico, but we have a way to go. Because of its rigorous standards, the NAEP assessment offers us a good target and measure,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis.

For 4th grade, New Mexico outperformed four jurisdictions – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Washington, D.C. The state’s average scale score of 208 (compared to 205 in 1998), based on the NAEP reading assessment scale of 0 to 500, for 4th grade was the same as six jurisdictions and lower than those in 37 jurisdictions. The national average scale score was 217. The percentage of 4th grade students in New Mexico who performed at or above the proficient level was 21 percent. In 1998, it was 21 percent.

In 8th grade, New Mexico outperformed four jurisdictions – American Samoa, Guam, Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. The state’s average scale score of 254 (compared to 258 in 1998) for 8th grade was the same as seven jurisdictions and lower than those in 35 jurisdictions. The national average scale score was 263. The percentage of 8th grade students in New Mexico who performed at or above the proficient level was 20 percent. In 1998 it was 23 percent.

“New Mexico’s Language Arts Content Standards and Benchmarks provide the basis for local school districts to develop their reading curricula. We believe that as the standards are fully implemented at the local level, and with greater emphasis on literacy through initiatives like Reading First and full-day kindergarten, language arts curricula will improve and student achievement will increase,” said State Superintendent Davis.

The reading, writing and math assessments were administered at the state level between January 27 and March 7 at grades four and eight in 2002. Fifty-six of the state’s 89 school districts participated.

Of the 2,316 4th graders assessed, 62 percent received Title I assistance. Native American and Hispanic participation increased by 2 percent and Blacks and Whites decreased by 2 percent. In 8th grade, 2,265 students were assessed. The number of Title I 8th grade students assessed increased by 15 percent. Native Americans increased by 4 percent, Hispanics increased by 1 percent, Blacks decreased by 0.5 percent and Whites decreased by 4 percent.

In terms of reading proficiency, NAEP reported the following:

• 48% of 4th graders and 36% of 8th graders scored below Basic, compared to 38% and 26% nationally
• 52% of 4th graders and 64% of 8th graders were at or above Basic, compared to 62% and 74% nationally
• 21% of 4th graders and 20% of 8th graders were at or above Proficient, compared to 30% and 31% nationally
• 4% of 4th graders and 1% of 8th graders were at the Advanced level, compared to 6% and 2% nationally

NAEP is a congressionally authorized assessment administered to public and nonpublic school students. Approximately 260,000 students were assessed in national and state samples on the reading assessment, including approximately 5,515 schools at grade four and 4,685 schools at grade 8.

The Reading release is the first of three releases scheduled for the next four months. The next release will be the 2002 Writing Results release this summer, followed by the 2003 results for Mathematics in the fall.