Newly released national data show that over the past two years Oklahoma students made improvements in reading proficiency but struggled in math.

In general, Oklahoma students ranked in the middle or toward the bottom among states and the District of Columbia on the 2015 National Assessment for Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The exams, given every two years to fourth and eighth grade students nationwide, are considered the best tool for comparing student achievement among states.

Among the results for Oklahoma:

–In reading, 32.6 percent of fourth graders scored proficient, up from 29.7 percent in 2013. The state ranked 37th. Eighth graders improved slightly in reading, with Oklahoma ranking 40th.

-In math, 36.7 percent of fourth graders were proficient, relatively unchanged from 2013. The state ranked 36th. Eighth graders lost ground in math, dropping from 25 percent to 22.9 percent. The ranking stayed the same, at 45th.

The trends were similar on raw test scores, with Oklahoma students recording gains on three of the four tests: fourth-grade reading and math and eighth-grade reading.


Education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the results show the state’s third-grade reading retention policy is working.

That law states that third graders who fail to read at a certain level must repeat the grade unless they receive an exemption. Struggling students also receive intensive reading remediation.

“Our focus on early-learning reading is working,” Hofmeister said. “Through RSA, we are reaching school children who need help the most.”

The results in math, though, should serve as “a call to action,” Hofmesiter said.

“This confirms our need for stronger attention in math, especially at the middle school level,” Hofmeister said. “Our students lag behind their national counterparts, and it is imperative that we change the momentum.”

Nationally, fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, and eighth-grade math scores all dropped from 2013 to 2015. The eighth-grade reading score remained the same.

Scores in both subjects and both grades are up from the 1992.

“Our nation’s schools and school districts are experiencing a lot of change, and NAEP gives us an independent and objective long-term measure of student achievement and lets us know where we stand today compared to past performance,” said Terry Mazany, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP.

The growth in Oklahoma’s math and reading scores has lagged the national average between 1992 and 2015.

Oklahoma4th Grade Reading2202222
National4th Grade Reading2152216
Oklahoma8th Grade Reading265263-2
National8th Grade Reading2612643
Oklahoma4th Grade Math22024020
National4th Grade Math21924021
Oklahoma8th Grade Math26327512
National8th Grade Math26228119

The state also continues to struggle with its academic achievement gap. The gap refers to the difference in scores between low-income and other students and white and minority students.

In eighth-grade reading, students not considered to be in living in poverty were nearly twice as likely to be considered proficient.

A student’s income level is based on whether they participate in the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.


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