Nation's Report Card shows the states scores in eighth-grade reading are above average

The latest Nation’s Report Card shows Oregon schools are running apace of the national average in reading and math, although there are still vast improvements to be made.

The National Center for Education Statistics on Nov. 7 released the report card, the result of what is known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The report card looks at how fourth- and eighth-graders are performing academically, comparing 2013 scores on math and reading assessments to scores during the past couple of decades. Rankings are: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced.

“Thirty-four percent of public school students performed at or above proficient in reading in 2013 at both grades 4 and 8, with the percentages in the states ranging from 17 to 48 percent,” the report card says.

This year, the national average scores showed a slight improvement of 1 or 2 percentage points or no change over 2011 and an increase of several percentage points from scores in the 1990s.

Oregon eighth-graders’ scores overall were higher than the national average in the 1990s but in recent years have been roughly the same. Oregon fourth-graders’ scores have traditionally been the same or lower than the national average on the NAEP’s 500-point scale.

Bob BarmanOregon is listed among several states in the Nation’s Report Card that are “not significantly different from the nation ... at either grade” in 2013.

Lake Oswego School Board member Bob Barman said this area has high-performing schools that are among the best in the state, and so the report card’s assessments and state-nation comparisons could be a little misleading.

“This is my opinion: We shouldn’t be judging ourselves against the national average,” Barman said. “What we should be benchmarking ourselves against are similar districts.”

He mentioned Palo Alto United and Menlo Park school districts in the Bay Area, set in affluent California communities with well-educated residents.

The Oregon Department of Education in September released state test results showing Lake Oswego School District schools scored above average or better than the rest of the Beaver State. Statewide, there was a decrease in students meeting standards.

“Despite a drop in the percent of students meeting state standards, our students’ average scores were holding steady or even increasing, indicating that the drop was a result of changing testing practice and not a decrease in student learning,” Oregon Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton said in a prepared statement.

In eighth-grade reading, Oregon did slightly better than the U.S. average this year in the Nation’s Report Card — 2 percentage points higher than the nation’s 31 percent proficiency score. And 33 percent is the highest Oregon has scored since 2002.Rob Saxton

“I am particularly pleased by our (eighth-graders’) reading gains,” Saxton said. “While I would love to see our students performing above the national average in all areas tested, this is movement in the right direction.” 

Oregon’s 2013 scores were:

n Fourth-grade math: 8 percent advanced, 33 percent proficient, 41 percent basic and 19 percent below basic

n Eighth-grade math: 8 percent advanced, 26 percent proficient, 39 percent basic and 27 percent below basic

n Fourth-grade reading: 9 percent advanced, 25 percent proficient, 32 percent basic and 34 percent below basic

n Eighth-grade reading: 4 percent advanced, 33 percent proficient, 42 percent basic and 21 percent below basic.

Overall, this year Oregon’s assessment results, much like the nation’s, were about the same as in 2011 but with many more students in the basic or proficient range than in the late 1990s.

To assess students, there are multiple choice and open-ended math questions measuring what students know and can do in five areas: number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis, statistics, probability; and algebra.

Multiple choice and open-ended math reading questions measure reading comprehension in literary and informational texts.

To view the Nation’s Report Card, visit

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @JillianDaley.

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