2017 NAEP Results Strong Indicator that Nevada's Investments in Education are Beginning to Pay Dividends

Immediate Release


- April 10, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev. – While Nevada’s overall fourth and eighth grade reading and math results from the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores match flat national results - Hispanic, Black and Asian students in the state demonstrated impressive gains. NAEP, known as the Nation’s Report Card, was released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

“Overall our students are not where we want them to be, but I’m encouraged by the results we’re seeing in areas where the state has made investments in English Learners and Early Literacy,” said Steve Canavero, Ph.D., Superintendent of Public Instruction. “While we have begun to narrow some achievement gaps, we are still behind national averages so we have much more work to do to meet our goal of becoming the fastest improving state in the nation.”

Visit https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2017_highlights/ to view the report.

Hispanics, who represent the largest ethnic group in Nevada, made the most significant gains on the most recent administration of NAEP that was released today by the U.S. Department of Education. In Nevada, the NAEP results came from a sampling of 128 elementary and 93 middle schools who participated in the federal assessment that occurs every odd year to produce data that helps determine federal education funding. All Nevada students in third through eighth grade participate in either the Smarter Balanced Assessment or Nevada Alternate Assessment. 

  • Hispanic fourth graders improved 3 percentage points from 2015 in reading to match the national average in proficiency at 22 percent. As recently as 2009, Hispanics were only 13 percent proficient in reading. Hispanics account for 44 percent of fourth graders in Nevada compared to 27 percent nationally.
  • Hispanic eighth graders improved 3 percentage points from 2015 in reading to 20 percent proficiency, but lag the national average by 2 percentage points. As recently as 2007, Hispanic eighth graders were only 11 percent proficient in reading. Hispanics account for 42 percent of eighth graders as compared to 25 percent nationally.
  • Hispanic eighth graders improved 2 percentage points from 2015 in math to 18 percent proficiency, but lag the national average by 2 points. As recently as 2003, Hispanic eighth graders were only 7 percent proficient.
  • Black fourth graders improved 6 percentage points from 2015 in reading to exceed the national average by a point with 20 percent scoring proficient.
  • Asian fourth graders improved 13 points from 2015 in math to match the national average in math at 67 percent proficiency.

“Governor Brian Sandoval and Nevada’s Legislature passed landmark education reform that came with major funding in each of the past two legislative sessions,” Canavero said. “The latest NAEP results begin to reflect the direction our state’s leadership has provided and I am confident going forward that Nevada students will make the necessary improvement to support our state’s new economy.”

In 2015, Nevada allocated $50 million for Zoom Schools to expand programs and services for English Learners across the state. In 2017, an additional $17 million was added for a total of $44.5 million to maintain the Read by Grade 3 initiative. The 2017 Legislature increased its Preschool Development grant match by $3.5 million for a total of $13.9 million and maintained statewide, voluntary full-day kindergarten efforts with $170 million in funding during the current biennium.

Nevada’s overall results in reading and math in 2017 were consistent with results in 2015. However, Nevada students still lag behind public school students in both average scores and proficiency. 

  • Nevada’s fourth grade proficiency rate in reading is 31 percent, up from 29 percent in 2015 and has steadily trended upwards since Nevada’s students scored a 21 in 2005. Nevada’s average score is 215, lower than the national average of 221 for public school students. Nevada is in the same category as 15 states and higher than two.
  • Nevada’s eighth grade proficiency rate in reading is 28 percent, up from 27 percent in 2015. Nevada’s average score is 260, lower than the national average of 265. Nevada is in the same category as 12 states and higher than three.
  • Nevada’s fourth grade proficiency rate in math is 31 percent, down from 32 percent in 2015. Nevada’s average score is 232, lower than the national average of 239. Nevada is in the same category as 11 states and higher than one.
  • Nevada’s eighth grade proficiency rate in math is 27 percent, up from 26 percent in 2015. Nevada’s average score is 275, lower than the national average of 282. Nevada is in the same category as nine states and higher than six.

Investments made by Nevada’s legislature reflect deficiencies cited in the NAEP results. Black and Hispanic student results are lower than white students by roughly 20 percent in all four categories. Students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch also scored significantly lower than those who are not eligible. In Nevada, 68 percent of fourth graders qualify for free or reduced lunch compared to 54 percent nationally. The 2017 Legislature appropriated $72 million to fund weights for students in poverty and English Learners who are not already in Zoom or Victory schools.

NCES, a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, is the statistical center of the U.S. Department of Education and the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES fulfills a congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, administers NAEP. The Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. Policy for the NAEP program is set by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and members of the general public. Since 1990, NAGB has been developing achievement levels, which are being used on a trial basis.