August 13, 2001

NCES Releases National Math Test Results

Recently, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report on student results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math exams administered last year.

Many education focus groups and organizations have lauded these results as progress for United States public and private school students in mathematics. However, test results still demonstrate that our students lack math skills-only one-quarter of U.S. fourth and eighth graders are proficient in math.

Overall average scores show only slight improvement when compared with scores from 10 years ago. According to NCES, at the fourth-grade level, public school students scored 226 out of 500 on the NAEP math test. Private school students scored a little higher on the same exam, with 238. Both scores have increased 14 points between 1990 and 2000.

NCES also found that public school eighth graders scored 274 out of 500, increasing by 12 points over the last decade. Private school eighth-graders scored 287, increasing their score by 16 points.

The study revealed that twelfth graders have improved on their math exams over the last 10 years, but not as much as younger grades. Public school seniors scored 300 out of 500, improving by 6 points, while their private school counterparts scored 315, gaining 15 points.

"The NCES study points to the United States' need for more effective education," said Caleb Kershner, acting director of the National Center for Home Education, a division of Home School Legal Defense Association. "Research demonstrates that the one-on-one tutorial method combined with the dedication of loving parents makes home schooling a highly effective educational option."

In his 2000 Peabody Journal of Education review of dozens of studies on home schooling, Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, found that home schooled students typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above the national average.