State Test Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 3: Student Achievement at 8th Grade
the third in its series of state test-score trend analyses, the Center
on Education Policy examines the achievement of eighth-grade students on
states’ reading and math exams from 2002-03 to 2008-09.
Surprisingly—and counter to previous research—the study found that
eighth graders are performing just as well as those in fourth grade and
high school, and that, of the three, eighth-grade scores are the
fastest-improving. Furthermore, at the advanced-achievement level, gaps
have widened in a majority of states between white students and their
African American, Latino, and Native American counterparts. And Asian
Americans have surpassed all other students by a notable margin. It’s
hard to know what to make of these findings. It’s certainly possible
that we’re finally seeing real improvements in the nation’s
long-challenged middle schools. But it’s also likely that the trends
simply reflect changes in state tests and cut scores. A more reliable
indicator, as always, is the NAEP, where these gains all but disappear.
Naomi Chudowsky and Victor Chudowsky, “State Test Score Trends Through 2008-09, Part 3: Student Achievement at 8th Grade,” (Washington, D.C.: Center for Education Policy, April 2011).