The original article by The Texas School Alliance includes the Urban Institute’s comparison of unadjusted versus adjusted NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores.

According to the Urban Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, Texas outperforms most other states when NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) results are adjusted for student demographics. The Urban Institute recognizes that comparing absolute rankings assume that all states serve the same students – and we know they don’t. The organization believes that a better way to compare and talk about NAEP performance is to use adjusted NAEP scores that account for demographic differences across students in each state.

In fact, the Urban Institute’s apples-to-apples analysis show that Texas students perform very well in math and above- average in reading when accounting for each state’s student demographics. The attached charts show the significant difference between adjusted and unadjusted (or absolute) rankings. When 2019 NAEP scores are adjusted for demographics, Texas students rank 4th in fourth-grade reading; 22nd in eighth-grade reading; 2nd in fourth-grade math; and 4th in eighth-grade math. (See charts below from the Urban Institute.)

Additionally, Texas 4th grade mathematics performance for African American students rank first among all states, while Hispanic and Anglo students’ performance rank in the top 10 states.

What Most People Don’t Know About NAEP

Student performance on NAEP does not correlate to student performance on STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness). The tests serve different purposes, the tests are administered to different groups of students, and as noted above, the results can be reported in different ways.

NAEP serves a different role than STAAR. STAAR measures student performance on Texas’ curriculum standards (known as TEKS). Curriculum standards are what policymakers and citizens consider important for students to know and be able to do. STAAR allows comparison of results over time within the state and gives individual student scores to allow parents to track their child’s progress. NAEP is not aligned to the TEKS (or any state’s content standards for that matter). The same NAEP assessment is administered in every state, and that allows comparisons of results from one state with another, or with results nationwide. Source: NAEP 2019 Facts for Districts.

NAEP tests are given to randomly selected students within randomly selected schools in grades 4 and 8 for Reading and Mathematics. The 2019 4th grade NAEP Reading test was administered to a representative sample of 7,100 students in 360 Texas schools. Within a school, not all of the students take the NAEP test, and student responses are combined with those from other participating students to produce the state’s results. In contrast, the 2019 4th grade STAAR Reading test was administered to approximately 380,000 students enrolled in 4,100 Texas public schools because STAAR tests every student, every year, in every school in grades 3-8. Source: NAEP 2019 technical appendix and TEA 2019 STAAR statewide summary.

Want to read more interpretations of the 2019 NAEP scores? Click here.