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Missouri students score above national average

Posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:40 am

Students in Missouri scored just above the national average on a test designed to measure the  impact of vocabulary skills on reading comprehension, according to a new report released Thursday by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).

Nationwide, Missouri ranked 24th on the fourth-grade vocabulary test and 27th on the eighth- grade test.

Missouri’s scores dropped slightly from the previous vocabulary assessment in 2009, but the difference was not considered statistically significant by NAEP.

“We are pleased to see that students in Missouri are maintaining their overall level of achievement on the vocabulary test,” said Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. “Strong vocabulary and reading comprehension skills are key to learning, and improving those skills is essential for students to succeed in college, other postsecondary training and a career.”

College- and career-readiness is a primary goal of Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for education in Missouri to rank among the top 10 states in the country by 2020.

Fourth graders in Missouri earned an average score of 219 on the vocabulary test, compared to the national average of 217. Massachusetts posted the highest average score in the nation with a 233.

Missouri eighth graders earned an average score of 266, three points above the national average of 263. Massachusetts also achieved the highest average score at the eighth-grade level with a 276.

Missouri’s average vocabulary test scores in 2009 were 222 for fourth grade and 267 for eighth grade.

More than 380,000 students in grades four and eight nationwide took the vocabulary test last year. About 6,100 students in Missouri participated in the assessment.

Missouri test results for most subgroups, including black, Hispanic and Asian students, were not statistically different than the national subgroup scores. However, Missouri students who were eligible for free and reduced-price lunches scored significantly higher than the national average for that subgroup at both the fourth- and eighth-grade levels. The national vocabulary test, first given in 2009, measures students’ understanding of word meanings in the context of written passages and their reading comprehension skills. The test results showed a strong relationship between vocabulary and reading comprehension. Students achieving the highest average vocabulary scores on the NAEP assessment performed above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension.

Known as The Nation’s Report Card, NAEP measures student performance through periodic testing in  a number of subjects areas including reading, math and science. NAEP has served as a national yardstick for student achievement since 1969. A sample of schools is selected for testing to accurately represent the geographical, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of schools and students in the United States. For more information, visit