'Nation's Report Card' Shows Louisiana Students Improving, But Still Far Behind

Oct 30, 2019

The "Nation's Report Card," or the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), shows Louisiana students are performing better in math and reading, but that the state still lags behind the rest of the nation, as well as the rest of the South.

The NAEP is based on nationally representative testing of thousands of 4th and 8th grade students in reading and math. It's carried out by the federal government through the National Center for Education Statistics.

The results, published every two years, are regarded as one of the most reliable measures of what students can do. They're different from the state's end-of-year testing, known as the LEAP.

This year’s NAEP report card shows Louisiana is making progress in getting more students to the “proficient” level. Around a quarter of students scored proficient in most areas. That’s up from proficiency rates as low as 5 percent back in the 1990s. The state department of education is highlighting big gains made over the last two years in 8th grade math. Still, despite the improvement, Louisiana trails the nation and most of the region in both grades and subjects.

Here are some charts we've created to help you understand the data and the big takeaways. Louisiana is the orange line. The national average is the yellow, dotted line.

This chart (above) shows the percentage of Louisana students scoring proficient in 8th grade math increased from 19 percent to 23 percent since 2017. That's the biggest improvement in the country for that time period. However, the state's proficiency rates are still tied for next-to-last for the region, along with Washington, D.C.  Alabama has the lowest proficiency rates for 8th grade math.

When it comes to reading, Louisiana 8th graders also made gains. Twenty-seven percent of Louisiana 8th graders tested proficient, up from 25 percent in 2017. That puts the state in the middle of the pack for the southern U.S., but still below the national average of 32 percent.

Louisiana did not make any improvement in the proficiency rate in reading for 4th graders since the last NAEP report in 2017.  The state's proficiency rate is at the very bottom of the pack for the South.

The percentage of Louisiana 4th graders testing at proficient in math rose from 27 percent to 29 percent. The state remains next-to-last in the South. Mississippi, notably, made huge gains since the last NAEP, rising to the national average of 39 percent.

This chart shows the average score on the NAEP test for each state, and for each grade and subject. The NAEP is graded out of 500, but the national average ranges between 219 and 281 depending on the grade and subject. If you scroll down to Louisiana, you can see the state is in the very bottom of the pack in each category.

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