Vermont posts steady scores in NAEP exams, gaps remain

Observer staff report

December 5th, 2013

Although Vermont students posted some of the best results in the country in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test, known as NAEP, less affluent students are still lagging behind.

The state’s 2013 scores showed no significant change from 2011. In fourth and eighth grade math and fourth grade reading, average scores increased one point. Scores stayed the same for eighth grade reading.

The state released an assessment of the tests last week. The test is administered every other year to students in all 50 states. Results are not broken down for individual students, schools or classrooms. Scores are divided into four categories: advanced; proficient; basic; and below basic.

Vermont historically ranks within the top 10 states. In eighth grade, only Massachusetts students scored higher than Vermont in reading and mathematics. In fourth grade reading, Vermont was behind Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In fourth grade math, Vermont was behind New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Fifty-two percent of Vermont fourth grade students who took the math test scored proficient or advanced; 47 percent in eighth grade math. Forty-two percent of fourth grade students who took the reading exam scored proficient or higher; 45 percent of eighth grade students.

“What this shows is that Vermont students continue to progress in comparison to other states and nations,” said Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca. “But I am particularly concerned that we still have not made major progress in closing the achievement gap for students living in poverty, which is why the Agency will continue to work closely with Governor Shumlin to implement and expand effective strategies such as pre-K, personalized learning plans and dual enrollment, which research tells us will help close this gap.”

Vermont students—like those nationwide—showed significant achievement gaps based on family income in all exams. The smallest gap was 14 percentage points in fourth grade math, and the largest was 23 percentage points in fourth grade reading.

“Although there is both good and bad news in the NAEP results, I’ve always believed that one test does not paint a full picture of how students and schools are progressing,” Vilaseca said. “The Agency will continue to look at multiple measures in order to inform and guide our work.”

For more information about Vermont’s performance on NAEP, visit