Placeholder text, please change

Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE)

We want to hear from YOU about the types of school programs you want to see for your children and get YOUR feedback on solutions! As PAVE parent leaders look to advocate for Increased Access to Specialized School Programs (STEM, Montessori, Dual-Language, Career and Technical Education, and MORE!), we want to make sure we include the voices of families from all across the city to develop truly parent- and community-centered solutions.

NAEP 101: Everything You Need to Know About the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

PAVE Parents and Supporters, 

Last week, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) released the results from the 2018-2019 School Year. The NAEP test is also called, “The Nation’s Report Card” because it provides valuable information about how students from all backgrounds are performing. DC showed more growth than most other states and districts across the nation, but we still have a lot of work to do to close the gap and ensure ALL of our kids are ready for college and careers. 

Keep reading to learn more about NAEP, DC’s results, and where we go from here! 

What is NAEP?

NAEP is a test given every two years to a random and representative sample of students across the country. It is used to measure students’ math and reading performance in the fourth and eighth grades.

NAEP is considered one of the most reliable measures of student achievement because it is representative of students from all types of backgrounds – including racial and socioeconomic – and tests students across urban, suburban, and rural communities. NAEP is given uniformly across the nation, so it also allows us to compare student results across states and lets our country know how all of our kids are doing.

Click here for a quick dive into NAEP 101!

How is NAEP Different from Other Tests?

NAEP is taken by only a representative - and random - sample of students, so NAEP is used more to assess the academic growth of the nation, state, or student group, rather than individual students. For this reason, there is currently no way to access individual student or school data. 

If you want to know how your individual child is doing around the standards that your state has set – which for DC are the Common Core State Standards – then, you should make sure that your school gives you your child’s PARCC results (in grades 3-8 and once in high school for reading and math) that students take annually or the NWEA MAP scores that students take two or three times a year and can show you your child’s growth during that academic year.

How do I understand DC's Scores?

Scores are reported in two ways — scale scores and achievement levels — so that student performance can be more easily understood.

Scale Scores

The NAEP scale scores provide a snapshot of the average overall proficiency of students in a given subject. Mathematics and reading performance are both measured on a 0 - 500 point scale. Student groups receive a scale score based on their mastery of specific skills within a subject’s item map, or a menu of questions on different topics and levels of difficulty. The chart below shows how fourth grade DC students performed in mathematics compared to the national average since 1992. Click here to use NAEP's helpful online tool to view different breakdowns of DC’s scores and how they compare with the nation.

DC’s Fourth Grade Math Performance – Scale Score

Achievement Levels

To help make sense of the scale scores and give a better understanding of what they mean,  student achievement is categorized into three achievement levels set by the National Assessment Governing Board. The levels, BasicProficient, and Advanced measure what skills students should know and be able to do proficiently at each grade assessed.

DC’s Fourth Grade Math Performance – Achievement Levels

How did DC do?


NAEP is administered every two years, so our most recent comparison comes from 2017. Nationwide, results didn’t show much progress. In many cases, overall performance declined. 

  • Gained 1 scale score point in fourth-grade math

  • 1 scale score point decline in fourth-grade reading 

  • 1 scale score point decline in eighth-grade math 

  • 3 scale score point decline in eighth-grade reading


DC saw statistically significant growth in three areas, and showed small - but statistically insignificant gains - in fourth grade reading. Check out OSSE’s presentation on the results here

Overall, DC has made some of the largest gains in the last three decades since the test was first administered, compared to the other 50 states. In fourth grade math, DC has gained nearly 30 points since 2003. 

While we should celebrate that growth, it is critical that we continue to focus on closing the gaps between DC students and students nationwide as well as the gaps we see across student groups. We cannot ignore the data that demonstrates the deep inequities in our system and that many parents and families experience first-hand every day. While DC students are closing the gap with their peers nationwide, scores are still behind in every subject. In DC, large differences between black and Hispanic students and their white peers persist (47 and 40 points, respectively), as well as gaps between students with disabilities and those without (38 points). 

Furthermore, the analysis from our partners at EmpowerK12 shows scores have continued to increase for students who are economically disadvantaged. Still, at the current rate, students will close the gap with their wealthier national peers in 80 years – not nearly fast enough to do right by our kids.  

We MUST take steps to accelerate this progress and set ALL students of all races, backgrounds, and income-levels up for success later in life. Every child is capable of achieving great things, it is our job to work together to unlock their potential and help them thrive! 

What's Next?

We hope that our city’s education leaders work in partnership with families and communities to implement the solutions that THEY want to see. This means adequate and equitable resources for schools, transparent citywide school funding, and bold policies that allow parents to lead the charge towards #GreatSchoolsInEveryWard

PAVE Parent Leaders are doing their part by advocating for increased access to specialized school programs and mental health supports and trauma-informed training in all schools. We can’t wait to see all they accomplish this year and the change they make for kids! 

Check out what they’ve been up to here and reach out to for more information about how YOU can get involved. We can only get to a more equitable and inclusive education system with all of us working together on behalf of each and every child in every ward and community – PAVE the way with us! 


The PAVE Team

Keep in touch! Sign up to join the PAVE listserv.

Do you have events and opportunities to share with PAVE?
Email us at
PAVE (Parents Amplifying Voices in Education) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that connects, informs, and empowers parent leaders to give families in DC a voice and a choice in the vision for education in our city. PAVE's goal is to create an education system in which parents are partners in developing a diversity of safe, nurturing, and great schools for every child in every ward and community.
Copyright © 2019 Parents Amplifying Voices in Education, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are signed up to receive updates and correspondence from PAVE.