For more than two decades, the federal government has conducted tests
of K-12 students in mathematics and reading known as the National Assessment
of Educational Progress (NAEP). Beginning in 1990, the federal government
began calculating individual state results in those academic areas. in 1990,
state-level results of the eighth-grade test in mathematics were published.
In 1992, state results for eighth-grade mathematics and fourth-grade mathematics
and reading were published.
This section reviews the 1992 scores for California and the four comparison
states. While the NAEP results are perhaps the best data available to compare
the relative status of educational achievement among states. the data do
not permit a full explanation of the causes for any differences in the performance
of individual states.
NAEP tests are designed to measure how well students "are able to
meet standards of performance necessary for a changing world.", Generally,
a difference of 15 points represents about one grade-level difference in
achievement. in order to control for differences in state programs, some
students identified as special education or limited-English proficient (LEP)
were excluded from testing based on specific federal criteria.
As we discuss below, students in California did not do well on the NAEP
tests-particularly the fourth-grade students. This low performance signals
a pressing need to Understand why fourth graders scored so poorly. While
the data are instructive, the fourth-grade test represents only one year
of data. We hope the federal government continues the state assessments
so that a longer record can be assembled.