South Dakota’s 4th grade reading scores on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress were down two points from 2009. South Dakota was one of two states to see its scores for reading at the 4th grade level drop, while the national average stayed steady for the 3rd consecutive year.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is based on a scale of 0 to 500. It is administered nationwide every other year to students in grades 4 and 8. The test was most recently administered January through March 2011.
South Dakota is now on par with the national average scale score of 220 for 4th grade reading. The state remains above the national average for reading at 8th grade and both grades for math.
“This is a call to action for us,” said Dr. Melody Schopp, South Dakota’s secretary of education. “We are sliding to the middle, and that’s not where we want to be. These results are reflective of what we see on our own state test – that our scores have reached a plateau. It begs the question: Are we truly challenging our students?”
“The state has not engaged in a comprehensive effort to address student achievement in these areas for several years. We have begun with the Common Core training this year, and it might be time to consider additional meaningful training. We need to help our state’s outstanding teachers find new methods to challenge our students, and reward them for their efforts,” Schopp said.
Schopp believes the adoption of the Common Core standards in English language arts and math should help to address the issue. The Common Core standards are more demanding, with a focus on higher-order thinking skills. “Not only will students have to possess the basic knowledge, but they will have to be able to apply that knowledge and justify their thought process,” she said.
The state fared well in math, where only five states scored higher than South Dakota at the 8th grade level. The average 8th grade scale score in math was 291 in South Dakota, compared to 283 nationally. At 4th grade, South Dakota had an average scale score of 241 in math, compared to the national average of 240.