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November 9, 2013

'Nation's Report Card' shows higher marks

Some question better marks on 'Nation's Report Card.'

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s fourth-graders scored higher on the nation’s benchmark standardized tests in math and English than their peers in most other states, but minority and poor students in Indiana are still lagging behind.

Indiana eighth-graders, on average, also improved their scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Education Thursday.

On the NAEP tests, administered to a sampling of students in every state across the nation, Indiana fourth-graders saw a 5-point jump in their test results over 2011. The state’s eighth graders saw a more modest increase. But barely one-third of those eighth-grade students scored “proficient” on the NAEP math and English tests.

In a statement released Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence noted that Indiana was the second fastest improving state in the nation when it came to NAEP test scores. Tennessee was the fastest, with a 22-point growth across all subjects, while Indiana saw a 15-point growth. Indiana also ranked 13th in the nation for overall test scores, up from 23rd in 2011.

Pence credited the sweeping and controversial education reforms put into place under previous Gov. Mitch Daniels for the rise in test scores. “While the NAEP measures only a snapshot of our students, the results show Indiana reforms are working and our teachers have risen to the challenge and produced significant gains in our classrooms,” Pence said. “It’s essential that we build upon the outcomes and momentum that these students have demonstrated.”

But an Indiana University education expert sounded a note of caution, saying the scores may not be as impressive as they first seem. Peter Kloosterman, a professor of mathematics education who’s conducting a national research project on NAEP math scores, said Indiana’s 2013 test results aren’t substantially different from past gains.

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