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Kentucky Remains Above National Average In Reading While Including More Special Needs Students


Kentucky has posted above average reading results, again, in the latest release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—also known as the Nation’s Report Card—and this year, education officials are celebrating the inclusion of more special needs students than ever before.

The NAEP test gives a snapshot of 4th and 8th grade student performance in math and reading every two years. Kentucky has previously been criticized for allowing more students with special needs certain accommodations or excluding more students altogether.But the latest NAEP results show that Kentucky’s reading scores remain above the national average while excluding the same number of students as schools on average around the country.“The exclusion rates do have an impact on test scores,” says University of Virginia research professor David Grissmer, who is also a member of the NAEP Validity Panel.That’s because those who are excluded—students with disabilities or limited English proficiency—have historically tested lower than their peers. The more students a state excludes, the better the score, Grissmer says.According to a news release, “the Kentucky Department of Education encouraged schools to include students in the 2013 NAEP testing who, in the past, may have been excluded from the test, based on teacher recommendations using students’ Individual Education Plans (IEPs).”The education department notes, “the NAEP test does not allow all of the accommodations Kentucky students are allowed on the state’s tests.”In this latest NAEP data release, Kentucky excluded 3 percent of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency in reading and 2 percent of those students in math.That’s the same rate as the national average.In previous years, Kentucky has excluded up to 9 percent for the reading test, more than double the national rate that year.NAEP math scores remain below the national average.The NAEP has been both praised for being the nation’s only consistent test measuring certain subjects (it measures more than reading and math), and it’s also been criticized as a “flawed benchmark.”