CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The math and reading skills of West Virginia fourth- and eighth-graders are improving, but they lag behind their public school peers across the nation.
The 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, released Thursday, shows that 35 percent of West Virginia fourth-graders and 24 percent of eighth-graders scored at or above the proficient level in math. In 2011, 31 percent of fourth-graders and 21 percent of eighth-graders in the state met or exceeded the standard.
Twenty-five percent of West Virginia eighth-graders scored at or above the reading proficient level, up from 24 percent in 2011. Twenty-seven percent of fourth-graders met or exceeded the standard, the same as in 2011.
Nationwide, 42 percent of fourth-graders and 35 percent of eighth-graders scored at or above the math proficient level. In reading, 35 percent of fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders hit that mark.
West Virginia fourth-graders scored an average 237 in math, compared with the national average of 241. Their average score in reading also was below the national average score, 215 compared with 221.
Eighth-graders’ average score in math was 274, 10 points below the national average score of 284. In reading, West Virginia eighth-graders scored an average 257, while the national average was 266.
Liza Cordeiro, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Education, said fourth-grade math scores improved 2 points, and there were gains of at least one point in all other areas.
“The improvements in fourth-grade math are encouraging and provide evidence that our student performance is improving,” state schools Superintendent Jim Phares said in an email. “Nonetheless, much work is left to be done. I am confident that through targeted, quality professional development for teachers and a renewed commitment to student engagement that our students will be prepared for their future success.”
West Virginia students eligible for free or reduced price school lunches, which the NAEP said is an indicator of low family income, fared worse on the assessment tests than those who were not eligible.
The average reading score of both fourth-graders and eighth-graders eligible for free or reduced price school lunches was 17 points lower than the score of students who were not eligible. The performance gap in average math scores was 20 points for eight-graders and 15 points for fourth-graders.