Wyoming Students Perform Above National Average Despite Pandemic
Written by Andrew-Rossi on October 27, 2022
Despite a national post-pandemic downturn in proficiency, Wyoming students continue to perform above the national average in reading and math – a testament to the quality of the public school system.
The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) has released the state’s reading and mathematics results on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, or NAEP.
“NAEP scores are an important indicator of how Wyoming stacks up nationally,” said Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Chad Auer. “In terms of public education in Wyoming – we have a lot to be proud of.”
In 2022 Wyoming’s grade 4 and 8 students continue to outperform national average test results, in reading and mathematics, except in grade 8 reading, where Wyoming student scores were statistically even with the national average in reading for public school students.
* = statistically different average score from 2022
Average scores in Wyoming were lower than reported in 2019 for grade 8 reading and lower in mathematics for grades 4 and 8. For the seven-year reporting period, from 2015 to 2022, Wyoming scores are down in all four reporting areas but were statistically flat or unchanged for grade 4 reading since 2017.
The NAEP assessments scheduled for 2021 were postponed until 2022 due to the pandemic. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), NAEP testing is administered in reading and mathematics every two years to grade 4 and 8 students. All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Department of Defense (DoD) schools, participate in the assessment.
Results for Wyoming mirror national public school trends, with results decreasing dramatically since 2019.
For example, 2022 grade 8 mathematics scores fell in 49 states, plus the District of Columbia, compared to 2019. In grade 4 mathematics, scores fell in 42 states compared to 2019. For grade 8 reading, scores dropped in 33 states from 2019; in grade 4 reading, scores dropped in 30 states from 2019.
“It is not surprising that the pandemic has had a negative impact on student achievement nationwide,” Auer said. “What the NAEP results suggest, however, is that Wyoming’s resolve to overcome the challenges associated with the pandemic paid off.”
A bright spot in Wyoming’s 2022 results is the continued strong performance by the state’s Hispanic, special education, and school lunch program students. These student groups continue outperforming their peers nationally in grade 4 and 8 mathematics and grade 4 reading. These contributions provided a lift, keeping Wyoming’s aggregate or overall scores above the national average.
“Wyoming’s teachers continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to equity and providing a high-quality education to ALL students regardless of a student’s ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or learning challenges,” Auer said.
Despite lower NAEP scores locally and nationally since 2019, Wyoming continues to hold its ground among states during the 2022 assessments, improving its relative standing among states in all reporting areas since 2019. For example, only one jurisdiction, DoD schools, performed above Wyoming’s average score in grade 4 and 8 mathematics and grade 4 reading. Additionally, only four states performed above Wyoming in grade 8 reading (compared to seven states statistically above Wyoming in grade 8 reading in 2019).
Unlike the WY-TOPP’s census approach of testing all students in grades 3-10, NAEP testing involves a statistical sampling of students. It does not render individual test results for students, schools, or districts. Due to the NAEP representative sampling strategy for assessing academic progress, sampling variability is inherent in all results. Consequently, NAEP data are similar to and resemble survey or polling results, where numeric differences in NAEP scores may not reflect statistically reliable or accurate distinctions in the data reported.
NAEP provides an external reference or point of comparison to audit, review, and compare each state’s educational program. It serves as a common yardstick across jurisdictions and a shared, stable trend line over time for tracking student achievement during the continued flux nationally in states’ testing programs.
The NAEP measurement scale represents a standardized national measurement of student achievement, with academic scores ranging from zero to 500 points. Cut points on the scale signify different levels of student performance, as follows:
In grade 4 reading, the Wyoming year-to-year results are as follows:
Wyoming’s 2022 estimated average reading score was 225, statistically unchanged from scores reported in 2019 and 2017.
In 2022, only one jurisdiction, DoD schools, performed higher than Wyoming. Additionally, 44 states performed lower, and six were not reliably different. Overall, these counts represent an improved standing in grade 4 reading in 2022.
In grade 8 reading, the Wyoming year-to-year results are as follows:
The average score in 2022 was lower than in 2019 and lower than in previous years.
Four states performed higher than Wyoming, 14 states performed lower, and 33 states were not reliably different in grade 8 reading.
In grade 4 mathematics, the Wyoming year-to-year results are as follows:
Wyoming’s estimated average mathematics score, 243, was lower compared to 246 in 2019.
In 2022, only one jurisdiction, DoD schools, performed higher than Wyoming. Additionally, 44 states performed lower, and six were not reliably different. Overall, these counts represent an improved standing in grade 4 mathematics in 2022.
In grade 8 mathematics, the Wyoming year-to-year results are as follows:
In 2022, only one jurisdiction, DoD schools, performed higher than Wyoming. Additionally, 38 states performed lower, and 12 states were not reliably different. Overall, these counts represent an improved standing in grade 8 mathematics in 2022.
Wyoming was one of only 15 states with annual funding of $15,000 per student or more during 2020, according to most current cost figures available from the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. National Average = $13,489). Wyoming’s peer funding states include Alaska, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Comparing Wyoming’s results to peer funding states on NAEP’s Basic or Above achievement level metric renders 56 pairwise comparisons with Wyoming’s results in 2022 (14 peer states across the four reporting areas in both grades and subjects). The results are as follows:
PEER FUNDING STATES ANALYSIS:
Comparing 2022 Wyoming NAEP Results to States with Similar Education Expenditures
Percentages of Students Scoring At/Above NAEP’s Basic Achievement Level
The percentage of Wyoming students scoring at or above NAEP Basic was higher than its peer funding states in 38 of these comparisons (statistically even with 16 states), and was only surpassed in two cases out of 56 by Massachusetts and New Jersey, both performing higher than Wyoming in grade 8 reading.
“As we all know, Wyoming makes a strong financial commitment to K-12 public education,” Auer said. “The most recent NAEP scores suggest that this investment is paying off.”
In 2022, Wyoming continued to perform well in comparison to the six bordering states on two metrics: average scale scores and the percentage of students performing at or above NAEP’s Basic achievement level. Wyoming was unsurpassed by any adjacent state in the 24 comparisons at NAEP’s Basic achievement level (across the six states and four reporting areas – both grades 4 and 8 and both subjects) and outperformed three of six neighboring states in grade 4 math.
For average scale scores in grade 4 reading and mathematics, Wyoming was above adjacent states’ scores in eight of 12 comparisons.
“I am a strong believer in the promise of American public education and I am proud to see Wyoming leading our nation in so many ways,” Auer said. “I know that Wyoming’s teachers and parents are not complacent – and will continue to make our schools even stronger. The Wyoming Department of Education looks forward to being an active partner in that process”
Find more details on Wyoming’s 2022 NAEP results here.