Poor States Score Better on New Report
The S&P report, Leveling the Playing Field 2005, is the first to analyze NAEP data based on student poverty levels, which research has found to be one of the greatest factors determining student performance. Its findings turn the traditional NAEP ranking on its head and draw attention to states that perform well despite more challenging student populations.
For example, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi—which have the highest percentage of poor students in the nation and scored dead last in fourth-grade reading in 2005—actually did as well as top-performing states such as New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey, according to the report.
"There has been a lot of commentary recently about states' absolute performance on the nation's report card. However, little has been said about the more constructive way for policymakers and the public to use the results, which is to make state-by-state comparisons while considering each state's level of student poverty," said Thomas Sheridan, vice president of S&P's education statistics clearinghouse, SchoolMatters.com .
State NAEP scores have been reported for fourth- and eighth- graders in reading and math every two years since 1992.