MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2023
Grade 4 reading scores: In this morning's report, we said that we'd present the data, and so we're going to do so.
Did American public schools drift away from phonics instruction during the George Bush years? If so, did that drift away from phonics instruction harm public school reading achievement?
We can't answer either question, but Nicholas Kristof's recent column may have conveyed some such impression. For the record, here are the gains in average scores recorded by public school fourth graders during that general period:
Average scores, Grade 4 reading, NAEP
American public schools: 1998 / 2009
White kids: 223.07 / 229.21
Black kids: 191.61 / 203.96
Hispanic kids: 191.70 / 204.10
On average, black kids and Hispanic kids both gained over twelve points during that eleven-year period. By a very rough rule of thumb—but one which is quite widely used—ten points on the NAEP scale is frequently said to be roughly equivalent to one academic year.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP) is our most reliable measure of academic achievement. Indeed, it may be our only reliable measure of academic achievement.
Average scores in the public schools were going up during that period. We don't know why those average scores in reading went up, but we do know that they did.
(Average scores in Grade 4 math went up by more than that.)
All in all, you never heard any such facts reported, analyzed, debated or discussed. Simply put, our high-end news orgs, and our tribe's cable stars, don't care about topics like this.
For all NAEP data: For all NAEP data, just click here. From there, you're on your own.
The NAEP publishes a wealth of data. Those data are never discussed.