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Georgia’s reading and math scores show anemic improvement

The 2017 NAEP test results, known as the “Nation’s Report Card”, show stagnant results all over the country. Georgia’s results did improve from the previously tested year in 2015, particularly in eighth-grade reading and math; however, fourth-grade showed no gains.

There was a decrease in fourth-grade reading. Georgia is one-point above the national average in eighth-grade reading. Overall, Georgia ranks 37th on the 2017 Nation’s Report Card.

“I’m pleased to see Georgia’s students making gains in eighth-grade reading and math,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “There is more work to be done, but as we continue our efforts to strengthen foundational instruction, provide developmentally appropriate formative assessments for early literacy and numeracy, and invest in reading and literacy, I’m confident we’ll see Georgia continuing to move in the right direction.”

An achievement gap between the races still remains notwithstanding the efforts to shift to Common Core Standards ( now called Georgia Standards of Excellence) in reading and math in order to level the playing field and help close the achievement gap. Despite such efforts to equalize learning opportunities, students with disabilities continue to drop in Georgia. There was a significant decrease in the average scale score for students with disabilities.

The Georgia Department of Education gives the following actions of what they intended to do for improving students with disabilities outcomes:

Improving outcomes and opportunities, and removing barriers, for students with disabilities is a top priority in Georgia. 

  • Identifying universal screeners for literacy and numeracy to act as an early warning system and help identify and support the academic needs of all students, specifically students with disabilities 
  • Providing co-teaching training focused on literacy and numeracy instruction and supporting students with disabilities and English Learners at the classroom level
  • Providing Universal Design for Learning training to ensure students with disabilities have access to high-quality, personalized literacy and numeracy instruction
  • Collaborating with other state agencies to create a seamless plan to coordinate early, literacy-focused interventions for young children with disabilities

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, former Education Professor at the University of Arkansas and former editor of the Journal of Research in the Teaching of English, said the following:

“Given the amount of money we spend on our public schools, the tiny upward changes in scores on the 2017 NAEP don’t justify the costs and the turmoil.  We need academically stronger teachers and curricula for all students if we are to increase academic achievement dramatically.”

Jane Robins, of the American Principles Project, who campaigned nationally and in Georgia against the implementation of the Common Core Standards, believes the results for fourth-grade students is troubling as a future indicator for success in Georgia.

“Georgia 8th-graders appear to be doing slightly better. But 4th-graders — children who have known nothing but Common Core training — are losing ground. This is hardly the “transforming education for every child” we were promised with Common Core. How many cycles of anemic results will it take before we decide this experiment on our children isn’t working? Common Core doesn’t seem to be making a dent in the “achievement gap,” which indeed may be getting worse.”

The NAEP is the only exam given nationwide in which scholars and policymakers compare students. Every state has its own separate annual assessments, but those assessments vary in difficulty and scoring methods. Fewer than 600,000 fourth-grade and eighth-grade students take the NAEP, but they are carefully selected from their individual districts.

Georgia 8th Grade Results
8th Grade Math    
2015 2017 2017 National AVG
279 281 282
8th Grade Reading
2015 2017 2017 National AVG
262 266 265
Georgia 4th Grade Results
4th Grade Math    
2015 2017 2017 National AVG
236 236 239
4th Grade Reading
2015 2017 2017 National AVG
222 220 222


Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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