Statement & Analysis from The Education Trust—West on California’s 2013 NAEP Reading and Mathematics Results

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OAKLAND, CA (November 7, 2013) — Performance for California’s eighth grade students in reading and mathematics has improved since 2011, but fourth grade performance remains flat, according to data released today from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The new data mark the tenth year where all states have participated in NAEP.

Scores for every group of students have been slowly improving over the last decade. Of particular note, California’s Latino students have gained 16 points in eighth-grade reading over the past 10 years, with a 7-point gain since the last assessment in 2011.

Unfortunately, California still ranks near the bottom in fourth-grade reading and math for students overall and for low-income and Latino students. In fact, California’s overall national rankings of 46th or 47th in fourth-grade reading and math have not budged since the assessment was last given in 2011.

Even more troubling, stubborn achievement gaps persist. While the gaps between Latino and African-American students and their white peers and the gaps between low-income and higher income students have slightly narrowed over the last decade, there are still yawning divides between these groups of students. For example, in eighth-grade math, only 11 percent of African-American students and 15 percent of Latino students are proficient, while 42 percent of white students are proficient.

Results for English learners are equally concerning. In math, 8 percent of California’s fourth-grade English learners are proficient, and just 3 percent of eighth-grade English learners are proficient. In reading, 5 percent of fourth-graders are proficient, and 2 percent of eighth-graders are proficient.

“While we have seen some progress and incremental gap-closing over the past decade, California’s achievement gaps are not closing fast enough,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West. “In a state that serves 1.3 million English learners and 3.7 million low-income students, we must and can do better.”

“The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) gives us the opportunity to dramatically increase and improve our investments for these students. The new law sends more money to school districts to serve low-income students, English learners, and students in foster care. However, the promise of a better future for these students will only be realized if the state requires that the money generated by low-income students, English learners, and foster youth is spent on them. We call on state leaders to keep their promise to our state’s highest need learners and protect the money generated by them. Only by investing in these students can we forever close dramatic opportunity and achievement gaps that prevent students from realizing their college and career dreams,” he concluded.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.