Maine students continued to score at or above the national average in math and reading on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress test, with relatively stable state results since 2015, according to data released Tuesday.

Maine results on this year’s test, referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card,” reflect national trends, which also had stable, statistically insignificant results in all four categories tested – fourth- and eighth-grade math and English.

The congressionally mandated tests in math, English and science have been administered annually since 1969 by the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education.

In math, 40 percent of Maine’s fourth-graders scored “proficient or above,” tied with 40 percent nationally. Thirty-six percent of the state’s eighth-graders scored “proficient or above,” compared with 33 percent nationally.

In reading, 36 percent of Maine’s fourth-graders scored “proficient or better,” compared with 35 percent nationally, and 39 percent of Maine’s eighth-graders scored “proficient or better,” compared with 35 percent nationally.

And while Maine’s average scores met or exceeded national averages, they were lower than for the Northeast region:

For fourth-grade math, Maine scored 240 out of 500 points. That compares to 239 nationally and 242 regionally.

For eighth-grade math, Maine scored 284, compared to 282 nationally and 288 regionally.

For fourth-grade reading, Maine scored 221, compared to 221 nationally and 228 regionally.

For eighth-grade reading, Maine scored 269, compared to 265 nationally and 271 regionally.

The one-hour test, which was given to a representative sample of Maine students between January and March 2017, is the only exam that allows comparison of students’ performance across states. The results do not include district-level data in Maine.

The test is not aligned with Common Core standards and the results cannot be compared to state assessment data, experts said. In addition, state education officials have said the test may not reflect local competency because certain subjects, such as geometry, are taught in different grades in different states.

The results also break out scores for student groups, including students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, an indicator of poverty. Statewide, 47 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch in Maine.

Gaps between the scores for students who qualified for free or reduced-cost lunch and those who did not were significant: In eighth-grade reading, students qualifying for free lunch had an average score 17 points lower than students who were not eligible. In fourth-grade math, students qualifying for free lunch had an average score that was 22 points lower.

The test also calculates how students did in cities, the suburbs or in rural environments. In math, Maine’s suburban fourth-grade students had an average math score 12 points higher than those in rural locations, and 19 points higher than in cities. Among eighth-graders, the average math score for suburban students was 11 points higher than city students and 14 points higher than rural students.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests only a representative sample of students. In Maine, the testing pool is about 2,500 to 3,000 students for each test. The testing takes about an hour because each student is given only a few problems.

The math and reading test is given in odd-numbered years, and tests in other subjects, such as science and writing, are given in even years.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is affiliated with the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: noelinmaine

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