Today results from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released. Overall, results for Colorado students remained flat from 2015 and the achievement gap between groups of students remains unacceptably high.
Given our early literacy priorities, we dove into the 4th grade reading scores. You can find a summary of information on these scores in Colorado, compiled by NAEP, here. The percentage of 4th grade students who scored at or above proficient on the reading portion of NAEP was 40% in 2017. In 2015, the percentage of students at or above proficient was 39%. According to a release from the Colorado Department of Education:
- The gap in scores between White and Black students in 4th grade reading is 29 points and for White and Hispanic students it is 26 points.
- There is a 29 point gap between students eligible for free/reduced lunch and those non free/reduced lunch students.
In a news release, Education Commissioner Katy Anthes acknowledged we have a lot of work to do and called on communities to play a role in supporting students, “We need to rally entire communities around our students to meet their needs before, during and after they enter and leave the school building each morning, so they all have equal access to the educational opportunities at school.”
It’s disappointing to see the stagnant results for Colorado’s students. What’s even more disappointing, is to see the continued, unacceptably high gaps in performance between groups of students, particularly between white students and students of color and between those living in poverty and those who are not. Quite simply, we must do better.
We have strong early literacy policy in Colorado in the READ Act, however, we must do more to ensure that the support provided through that policy is reaching our students and their teachers. The ability to read is a foundational skill and these results show that far too many students are being left behind. We agree with Commissioner Anthes that it will take entire communities leaning in to support our students. It is time to redouble our efforts to make sure every Colorado student is equipped with the skills to be a strong reader so they are prepared for success in school and beyond.