From 1998 to 2011, Michigan’s average NAEP fourth-grade reading score for all students rose slightly from 216.0 to 218.9, an increase of 1.3 percent.[*] This change, however, was not statistically significant.

Over the same period, Florida’s average NAEP fourth-grade reading score leapt from 205.7 to 224.5, a 9.1 percent improvement. This increase was statistically significant and allowed Florida to easily surpass Michigan’s average score (see Graphic 7). The national average over this period showed some growth, rising from 212.8 to 220.0, a statistically significant 3.4 percent increase.[†]

Graphic 7: Average NAEP Fourth-Grade Reading Scores in the United States, Michigan and Florida, All Students, 1998-2011

Graphic 7: Average NAEP Fourth-Grade Reading Scores in the United States, Michigan and Florida, All Students, 1998-2011 - click to enlarge

Source: “NAEP Data Explorer: Main NDE,” (National Center for Education Statistics; United States Department of Education), http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/ (accessed March 21, 2013).

The average NAEP fourth-grade reading score for lower-income students in Michigan increased from 200.2 in 1998 to 204.5 in 2011, a 2.2 percent increase that was not statistically significant. Florida’s average for lower-income students showed much more improvement, growing from 190.4 to 215.9 over this period — a statistically significant 13.4 percent increase (see Graphic 8). In reading, then, Florida’s lower-income fourth-graders improved at six times the rate of their peers in Michigan and scored well above them by 2011. In fact, the average score for lower-income students in Florida was only 1.4 percent below the average for all fourth-grade Michigan students in 2011. The national average for lower-income students in fourth-grade reading on the NAEP improved from 195.4 in 1998 to 206.9 in 2011, a statistically significant 5.9 percent increase.

Graphic 8: Average NAEP Fourth-Grade Reading Scores in the United States, Michigan and Florida, Students Qualifying for the National School Lunch Program, 1998-2011

Graphic 8: Average NAEP Fourth-Grade Reading Scores in the United States, Michigan and Florida, Students Qualifying for the National School Lunch Program, 1998-2011 - click to enlarge

Source: “NAEP Data Explorer: Main NDE,” (National Center for Education Statistics; United States Department of Education), http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ naepdata/ (accessed March 21, 2013).


[*] NAEP typically publishes its scores as whole numbers, but its downloadable spreadsheets provide scores to 12 decimal places. These precise spreadsheet values were used for the percentage calculations in the main text, so the percentages may not always agree perfectly with the percentage differences in the scores — rounded to a single decimal place — in the main text.

It should also be noted that because NAEP tests are administered to only a representative sample of the students in a state, the National Center for Education Statistics produces a standard error for the scores. For example, the standard error for fourth-grade reading was 1.16 in Michigan, 1.12 in Florida and 0.3 in the nation as a whole. “The NAEP Glossary of Terms,” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011), http://goo.gl/k1wMt (accessed April 30, 2013); “Cautions in Interpreting NAEP Results,” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010), http://goo.gl/D6vZY (accessed April 30, 2013).

[†] The statistical significance of a change in test scores is determined by NCES at the 0.5 level. “NAEP Data Explorer: Main NDE”, (National Center for Education Statistics; United States Department of Education), http://nces.ed.gov/nations reportcard/naepdata/ (accessed March 21, 2013). The NCES’ calculations of statistical significance account for the standard errors in NAEP test scores (see previous footnote). “Cautions in Interpreting NAEP Results,” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010), http://goo.gl/D6vZY (accessed April 30, 2013).