The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP test, is commonly called “The Nation’s Report Card.” The results of this test are commonly cited in news articles comparing states, noting areas of weakness in our students, and analyzing trends.
I think anyone with an interest in education would enjoy perusing the state profiles at the National Center for Educational Statistics. The data at your fingertips is just amazing. You can highlight your state and immediately see NAEP data for both 4th and 8th grades for the last ten years. It’s interesting to see how many students in your state scored at or above basic, proficient, and advanced.
The real fun comes when you compare the states. The website makes it so easy. Say you want to compare the 4th grade reading data in your state. Go down to the chart of scores and click on “compare.” You are taken to a screen that looks like this. Now the states are color coded to indicate which states had a higher average scale score, which states were not significantly different, and which states had a lower average scale score. You can see the same score data in two graph types: bar and line graphs.
The NAEP website is a good place to find demographic data for your state. Just scroll down and you’ll see it on the side of the screen: the number of students, teachers, the student-to-teacher ratio, the ethnic breakdown, and more. Here is an example for New Hampshire.
- The data can be helpful for the just plain curious. How does your state really stack up against all others? Is the situation as dire as politicians would have you believe?
- The data can help you with papers for advanced degree programs, professional development, or presentations.
- The charts, graphs, and map-with-comparisons are wonderful examples of data for your class. I really like how you can see the same data in a table, map, bar graph, or line graph.