Indiana Eighth Graders Show Improved Reading Scores

Apr 10, 2018

The so-called “nation’s report card” came out Tuesday to highlight math and reading scores for fourth and eighth graders throughout the country. Indiana’s 2017 averages remained similar to those from 2015, but it was one of the 10 states to show significant improvements in average eighth grade reading scores.

Overall, data from the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) show no major nationwide improvements in any of the four categories. But some individual states had significant changes compared to 2015. Alaska and Vermont, for example, saw a drop in some of their average scores, while Florida improved in every category but one.

Indiana’s average score for eighth grade reading reached 272, marking a 4-point increase from 2015, and 41 percent of those students reached the proficient level.

Indiana also remains above the national average in both math and reading for fourth and eighth graders, but less than half of the state’s students reached the proficiency benchmark in any category last year.

Institute for Quality Education President Betsy Wiley says that’s unacceptable.

“Proficiency should be the goal for every Hoosier student,” she said in a statement, shortly after the data’s release. “Indiana policymakers must act quickly and boldly to expand on the policies currently in place, which have led to increased academic performance, if we are to reach this goal.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised the state of Florida for showing widespread improvements, but also expressed concern about the lack of progress for nationwide averages.

“Our nation’s reading and math scores continue to stagnate,” she said in a statement. “More alarmingly, the gap between the highest and lowest performing students is widening, despite billions in federal funding."

Indiana’s average scores illustrate persisting achievement gaps. Every category showed a significantly lower average score for black, Latino, and low-income students – compared to white students and those who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch.

There was a major drop in average math scores among black eighth graders in 2015. But last year, that number bounced back and then some; the average reached the 270 mark – an all-time high.

The data comes from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, administered through the National Center for Education Statistics which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.