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Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Latest NAEP results show slight gains in math, School of Education researcher reports

Nov. 1, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.--The latest results for fourth and eighth grade math and reading from the U.S. Department of Education's (USDOE) National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test indicate small but significant gains, according to Peter Kloosterman, the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Chair for Teacher Education and a professor of mathematics education at Indiana University.

Peter Kloosterman

Peter Kloosterman

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The NAEP, also called "The Nation's Report Card," tests for academic achievement results detailing what the USDOE terms "progress on essential 21st century skills."

National results in math for grades 4 and 8 were up one point since 2009, following substantial improvement in math over the last 20 years. Kloosterman said it was encouraging to see additional gains given the state of funding for education.

"Scores in reading have not improved nearly as much as math over time and while there was no gain this time at grade 4, there was a one-point gain at grade 8," he said. "Gains in Indiana were similar to gains for the nation as a whole, and while Indiana students' scores were a bit above the national average, those differences were significant only for mathematics."

Kloosterman is in the midst of a three-year study of NAEP data analyzing past and present student performance in mathematics, funded by a $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant.

"What Mathematics Do Students Know? Implications from NAEP for Curriculum and Policy" is a research project that uses data from the NAEP tests to examine what U.S. students know now compared to the last three decades. The study also measures how performance links to specific math curricula and courses students take in high school.

Kloosterman is conducting the project with Nathaniel Brown, assistant professor of learning sciences in the IU School of Education; Crystal Walcott, assistant professor of mathematics education at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus; and Doris Mohr, associate professor of mathematics at the University of Southern Indiana.

The new study continues Kloosterman's NAEP analysis from a previous project: In 2002, the NSF also granted $1.3 million to interpret NAEP results for teachers and school administrators and use the information to create materials to improve classroom teaching and teacher professional development.

Kloosterman is available to respond to questions about how to interpret the latest NAEP results. For more information please contact Chuck Carney at the IU School of Education at 812-856-8027 or