The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2007
What is The Nation's Report Card?
The Nation's Report Card informs the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. Report cards communicate the findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a continuing and nationally representative measure of achievement in various subjects over time.
For over three decades, NAEP assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and other subjects. NAEP is a congressionally authorized project of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.
As the key that allows access to many forms of knowledge and information, reading literacy is a skill critical to learning. The NAEP reading assessment measures reading comprehension by asking students to read passages and answer questions about what they have read. In this way, it collects valuable information on the progress of literacy and provides a broad picture of what our nation's students are able to read and understand at specific grade levels.
A nationally representative sample of more than 350,000 students at grades 4 and 8 participated in the 2007 reading assessment. (In grade four, 7,830 schools and 191,000 students participated. In grade 8, 6,930 schools and 160,700 students participated.) Comparing these results to results from previous years shows the progress fourth- and eighth-graders are making both in the nation and in individual states.
The 2007 assessment shows that reading skills are improving for both fourth- and eighth-graders, particularly among lower- and middle-performing students. Many student groups made gains in both grades; however, these gains were not always accompanied by significant closing of racial/ethnic and gender gaps.
Students demonstrated their reading comprehension skills by responding to questions about various types of reading passages on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment. Reading abilities were assessed in the contexts of literary experience, gaining information, and performing a task.
Fourth-graders scored higher in 2007 than in all the previous assessment years. The average reading score was up 2 points since 2005 and 4 points compared to the first assessment 15 years ago. Higher percentages of students were performing at or above the Basic and Proficient achievement levels in 2007 than in previous years.
The average reading score for eighth-graders was up 1 point since 2005 and 3 points since 1992; however, the trend of increasing scores was not consistent over all assessment years. In comparison to both 1992 and 2005, the percentage of students performing at or above the Basic level increased, but there was no significant change in the percentage of students at or above the Proficient level.
White, Black, and Hispanic students in both grades make gains
As indicated on the chart below, White, Black, and Hispanic students all scored higher in 2007 than in the first assessment 15 years ago at both grades 4 and 8. However, improvements for minority students did not always result in the narrowing of the achievement gaps with White students. Only the White-Black gap at grade 4 was smaller in comparison to the gaps in 2005 and 1992.
Male - Female gap
White - Black gap
White - Hispanic gap
|Indicates the score was higher or the gap increased in 2007.|
|Indicates the score was lower or the gap decreased in 2007.|
|Indicates there was no significant change in results for 2007.|
|Reporting standards not met.|
Female students outperform males
Patterns in improvement for male and female students varied by grade. Scores for both male and female students increased since 2005 at grade 4, but not at grade 8. In 2007, female students scored 7 points higher than male students at grade 4 and 10 points higher at grade 8. These gender score gaps were not significantly different from the gaps seen 15 years ago.
Four states and jurisdictions make gains in reading at both grades
Compared with 2005,
|4 states and jurisdictions (District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, and Maryland) improved at both grades,|
|13 states (Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming) and Department of Defense schools improved at grade 4 only,|
|2 states (Texas and Vermont) improved at grade 8 only,|
|2 states declined at grade 8 (North Dakota and Rhode Island), and|
|30 states showed no significant change at either grade.|
Differing patterns emerged when results were examined by the contexts for reading. For example, 5 of the 44 states and jurisdictions that showed no change in overall performance at grade 8 did show a gain in at least one of the three reading contexts.
What Fourth-Graders Know and Can Do in Reading
The item map below is useful for understanding performance at different levels on the scale.
The scale scores on the left represent the average scores for students who were likely to get the items correct or complete. The lower-boundary scores at each achievement level are noted. The descriptions of selected assessment questions are listed in the right column and indicate what students needed to do to answer the question successfully.
For example, the map on this page shows that fourth-graders performing near the middle of the Basic range (students with an average score of 220) were likely to be able to recognize the meaning of specialized vocabulary from context. Students performing near the lower end of the Proficient range (with an average score of 239) were likely to be able to identify a character's problem and describe how it was solved.
Grade 4 NAEP Reading Item Map
|347||Integrate text ideas to provide and explain their application|
|326||Evaluate titles and support judgment about them|
|324||Provide text-based inference and support with story details|
|302||Explain causal relation between character's action and story outcome|
|290||Read across text to provide a sequence of specific information|
|290||Describe change in story character and explain cause|
|284||Use dialogue or action to provide inference about character trait|
|277||Recognize author's purpose for including information|
|268||Provide causal relation between text ideas|
|268||Cut off Score for "Advanced"|
|265||Connect relevant text ideas to provide an explanation|
|264||Extend text information to provide an opinion|
|257||Recognize the main purpose of an article|
|250||Use local story context to recognize meaning of a word|
|242||Retrieve relevant information to fit description|
|239||Identify character's problem and describe how it was solved|
|238||Recognize the main message of a story|
|238||Cut off Score for "Proficient"|
|237||Use story details to infer and describe character's feelings|
|236||Use character trait to make a comparison|
|231||Recognize fact supported by text information|
|226||Recognize paraphrase of explicitly stated supporting example|
|220||Recognize meaning of specialized vocabulary from context|
|216||Recognize support for interpretation of character|
|209||Recognize literal information from text|
|208||Cut off Score for "Basic"|
|205||Make simple inference to recognize relationship of picture to text|
|203||Recognize the main topic of an article|
|200||Provide text-based explanation of character's importance to story|
|193||Recognize character's motivation for central story action|
|189||Recognize important lesson based on story theme|
|158||Use explicitly stated information to provide character motivation|
Note: Regular typeface denotes a constructed-response question. Italic typeface denotes a multiple-choice question. The position of a question on the scale represents the average scale score attained by students who had a 65 percent probability of successfully answering a constructed-response question, or a 74 percent probability of correctly answering a four-option multiple-choice question. For constructed response questions, the question description represents students' performance rated as completely correct. Scale score ranges for reading achievement levels are referenced on the map.
What Eighth-Graders Know and Can Do in Reading
The item map below illustrates the range of reading ability demonstrated by eighth-graders. For example, students performing in the middle of the Basic range (with an average score of 261) were likely to be able to identify the appropriate text recommendation for a specific situation. Students performing near the top of the Proficient range (with an average score of 318) were likely to be able to infer and explain traits of a character using specific examples.
Grade 8 NAEP Reading Item Map
|365||Use understanding of character to interpret author's purpose|
|357||Use examples to explain importance of setting to plot|
|337||Search dense text to retrieve relevant explanatory facts|
|329||Recognize narrative device and explain function in story|
|326||Follow directions to fully complete task|
|323||Cut off Score for "Advanced"|
|321||Integrate story details to explain central conflict|
|318||Use specific examples to infer and explain character traits|
|315||Apply text information to real life situation|
|312||Infer and provide lesson based on historical biography|
|308||Describe difficulty of a task in a different context|
|299||Recognize explicit information from highly detailed article|
|298||Use metaphor to interpret character|
|293||Recognize author's device to convey information related to a task|
|288||Identify genre of story|
|284||Recognize what story action reveals about a character|
|281||Cut off Score for "Proficient"|
|279||Use task directions and prior knowledge to make a comparison|
|278||Infer character's action from plot outcome|
|272||Describe central problem faced by the main character|
|265||Recognize author's purpose for including a quotation|
|262||Identify causal relation between historical events|
|261||Use context to identify meaning of vocabulary|
|261||Identify appropriate text recommendation for a specific situation|
|259||Provide specific text information to support a generalization|
|253||Read across text to provide explanation|
|248||Recognize information included by author to persuade|
|244||Support opinion with text information or related prior knowledge|
|243||Cut off Score for "Basic"|
|235||Recognize explicitly stated reason for action in an article|
|230||Recognize reason for character's central emotion|
|218||Identify inference based on part of the document|
|215||Recognize an explicitly stated embedded detail|
|206||Identify appropriate description of character's feelings|
|205||Use global understanding of the article to provide explanation|
Note: Regular typeface denotes a constructed-response question. Italic typeface denotes a multiple-choice question.
The position of a question on the scale represents the average scale score attained by students who had a 65 percent probability of successfully answering a constructed-response question, or a 74 percent probability of correctly answering a four-option multiple-choice question. For constructed response questions, the question description represents students' performance rated as completely correct. Scale score ranges for reading achievement levels are referenced on the map.
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