News Releases

October 30, 2015

Reading and Math Scores Remain Among Best in the Nation

Vermont Scores Still Far From Meeting Goals

Vermont's fourth and eighth graders scored among the best in the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests of Reading and Mathematics, the Agency announced today. Additionally, Vermont students are showing improvements in reading, which includes closing an achievement gap among low-income students. However, the 2015 test scores suggest that students across the country did not perform as well on the mathematics assessed by NAEP when compared to previous years, including in Vermont.

NAEP highlights the statewide academic performance for all students, as well as demographic groups including race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status. The test is administered every other year to students in all 50 states, but does not include results for individual students, schools, or classrooms.

Vermont students continued to perform among the top 10 states in the nation. In eighth-grade reading, no other state scored significantly higher than Vermont. The only state to score higher than Vermont in fourth-grade reading was Massachusetts. Vermont showed a significant increase in scores from the previous years for fourth-grade reading. The increase in average scores can be attributed to significant gains in scores for students living in poverty, which closed the achievement gap by approximately four points. In eighth -grade mathematics, only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Minnesota outscored Vermont students. In comparison to the rest of the country, Vermont students exceeded the national average by approximately nine points[1].

Vermont Average Scale Scores

Math Grade 04

2005: 244

2007: 246

2009: 248

2011: 247

2013: 248

2015: 243

Math Grade 08

2005: 287

2007: 291

2009: 293

2011: 294

2013: 296

2015: 290

Reading Grade 04

2005: 227

2007: 228

2009: 229

2011: 227

2013: 228

2015: 230

Reading Grade 08

2005: 269

2007: 273

2009: 272

2011: 274

2013: 274

2015: 274

National Average Scale Scores

Math Grade 04

2015: 240

Math Grade 08

2015: 281

Reading Grade 04

2015: 221

Reading Grade 08

2015: 264

"The drop in mathematics scores was surprising, and reflects a national trend," said Secretary Rebecca Holcombe. "We are working with other states and national organizations to better understand possible sources or explanations for this decline."

The Agency of Education encouraged the public to think of NAEP scores as one of many measures that give insight on the performance of our system overall, but should not be used in isolation from other data. Vermont scores quite competitively with other states and countries, when accounting for the effect of poverty on learning. However, Secretary Holcombe stressed that "our goal is to pursue systematic, sustainable, incremental improvements in learning that reflect a growing capacity of our schools to meet students where they are and help them learn ever more than before."

Despite Vermont's overall positive standing compared to other states, Secretary Holcombe said, "The NAEP confirms that there is a substantial gap in performance between our students living in poverty and not. We will work to provide those students with high quality opportunities to learn, so that they can reach performance levels comparable to those of their more affluent peers, even as we work to improve learning for all students."

Although some students who live in poverty have extremely strong skills, in Vermont as the rest of the nation, students demonstrated significant achievement gaps based on family income at both fourth- and eighth-grade levels and in both mathematics and reading. The smallest gap in Vermont was 20 points for fourth grade mathematics, and the largest was 22 points in fourth grade reading. Although these gaps are smaller than the national average, and Vermont low-income students are among the highest performing students in the nation, gaps continue to be an area of concern for Vermont.

Secretary Holcombe said, "We are a small state with a small population and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. We need to make sure every Vermont child has opportunities to gain the skills she or he needs to participate in the workforce, pursue some kind of postsecondary credential and help us build thriving communities. We must invest in their capacity, so they in turn can invest in the strength of their own families and communities."

Free/Reduced Lunch Average Scale Score (Vermont)

Math Grade 04 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 234

2009: 235

2011: 238

2013: 236

2015: 232

Math Grade 04 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 252

2009: 254

2011: 253

2013: 256

2015: 252

Math Grade 08 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 277

2009: 277

2011: 277

2013: 279

2015: 278

Math Grade 08 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 296

2009: 300

2011: 302

2013: 305

2015: 299

Reading Grade 04 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 213

2009: 215

2011: 213

2013: 213

2015: 217

Reading Grade 04 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 235

2009: 236

2011: 236

2013: 239

2015: 239

Reading Grade 08 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 260

2009: 260

2011: 260

2013: 261

2015: 261

Reading Grade 08 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2007: 278

2009: 277

2011: 281

2013: 282

2015: 282

Free/Reduced Lunch Average Scale Score (National)

Math Grade 04 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 229

Math Grade 04 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 253

Math Grade 08 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 268

Math Grade 08 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 296

Reading Grade 04 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 209

Reading Grade 04 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 237

Reading Grade 08 - Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 253

Reading Grade 08 - Not Free/Reduced Lunch

2015: 276

The NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time with respect to a specific set of learning goals. As noted above, however, as standards and goals for learning evolve and teachers emphasize new content, and perhaps deemphasize other content, this stability means NAEP may not be able to adequately capture learning with respect to new standards. NAEP does provide results on subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., all fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students).

For more information about NAEP in Vermont, including information about the graphics provided by NAEP, please contact Andrew Hudacs, NAEP State Coordinator, at (802) 479-1366 or

The US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics Nation's Report Card webpage:

State Profiles webpage:

Connect with the Vermont Agency of Education on Twitter (, Facebook (, and YouTube (

Media Contact: Andrew Hudacs, (802) 479-1366,

[1] Comparisons across states only account for differences that are statistically significant. States with average scale scores that are

not significantly higher than Vermont are not listed.

Source: Agency of Education
Last Updated at: October 30, 2015 08:27:01