This is the second blog in this series comparing Kentucky’s performance on the NAEP to other states.
I provided some cautions in the first blog, which had Grade 4 reading results, about why comparisons of state performances with the National Assessment of Educational Progress using all student average scores ignores major differences in student demographics across different states and just winds up comparing scores for lots of white students in Kentucky to scores for minority students elsewhere. The picture that results is thus misleading.
I also pointed out that comparisons need to consider the statistical sampling errors in all NAEP scores. The maps I am assembling in this series, which looks at only white students, honors those demographic and sampling error concerns.
So, let’s see what the mapping tools in the NAEP Data Explorer web tool show us about NAEP Grade 4 math.
Figure 1 shows how the state stacked up in 2017.
As you can see from the summary at the top, a whopping 29 states plus the DC schools (a total of 30 jurisdictions) had white student scores statistically significantly higher than Kentucky’s white student NAEP math Scale Score of 243. That score also was statistically significantly lower than the overall white student score for public schools across the nation, as shown by the dark blue dot for the National Public score.
Thanks to those statistical sampling errors, Kentucky was in a tie with 19 states and statistically significantly outscored just two states.
Again, data from the Department of Defense Schools (DS), whose circle is shown in gray, is not included.
Now, let’s see what happened in the new, 2019 NAEP. Figure 2 tells that story.
Clearly, Kentucky’s white students lost more ground in 2019 compared to whites in other states. NAEP Grade 4 math results for 2019 now show 35 jurisdictions (34 states plus DC schools) statistically significantly outscored us. That’s an increase of five states definitely doing better than the Bluegrass State. At the other end of the scale, Kentucky only statistically significantly outscored just one state in 2019, down from the two states our white students bested in 2017.
Also note that our 2019 NAEP Scale Score for Grade reading also dropped by 1 point to 242. This was also below the National Public average, again, as well.
Overall, as of 2019 with a massive 35 states doing statistically significantly better than Kentucky and only one doing statistically worse, the idea that the Bluegrass State is performing at about the middle of the pack in math absolutely doesn’t look right for the fourth grade, at least. The state actually is floating around somewhere far below that point for NAEP Grade 4 math for its white students, and with whites making up about three out of four fourth grade students in 2019 in Kentucky’s public schools (according to the NAEP Data Explorer), that is something we all need to be concerned about.