Louisiana students on average scored below the national average on two different standardized tests given nationwide, according to statistics released Wednesday.
However, the Louisiana Department of Education pointed to significant improvement in some areas, particularly in mathematics.
Out of 52 jurisdictions – including the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the federal system for military families – Louisiana students tied for 47th in fourth grade math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The NAEP calls itself the “nation’s report card.” Louisiana eighth graders were 42nd in math.
Louisiana fourth graders’ average score on the NAEP in reading ranked 48th, while the average eighth grade score was 37th.
In their assessment of the NAEP results, state education officials focused on the rate of improvement compared to 2017, which outpaced the national rate in three of the four grade and subject categories. Louisiana’s eighth graders led the nation in both average score improvement and the percentage increase of students considered at or above “proficient.”
Since 2009, Louisiana has outpaced the national rate of improvement in all four categories, the department says.
“It is critical that we keep the progress going,” state Superintendent of Education John White said.
Also released Wednesday were average scores on the ACT. The test is meant to demonstrate college readiness and is used by many postsecondary schools as part of their admissions criteria.
Louisiana high school students who took the ACT had an average composite score of 18.8, which is below the national average of 20.7.
In Louisiana, all students are required to take the ACT before graduating, which means many students take the test who are unlikely to perform well. Among the 15 states in which all high school graduates took the test, Louisiana’s average score was higher than only two other states’ average: Mississippi (18.4) and Nevada (17.9).
No other state had a lower average score than Louisiana, though in South Carolina, where ACT says 78 percent of graduates took the test, the average score was the same.