Report: La. ranks low in math, reading

Public school students in Louisiana again Thursday finished near the bottom nationally in reading and math in the latest update of the nation’s report card.

The exam is called the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

The exam is considered one of the most reliable indicators of student achievement and state-to-state comparisons.

The latest results for fourth- and eighth-graders show that Louisiana students were:

Tied for 50th in fourth-grade math.

48th in fourth-grade reading.

Tied for 48th in eighth-grade math.

Tied for 48th in eighth-grade reading.

The results carry extra significance amid arguments about the state’s drive to add rigor to public school courses, which is called Common Core.

Backers contend that increasing standards in math, reading and writing will improve student achievement.

Opponents say the changes could pave the way for a federal curriculum, are being implemented too quickly and failed to get enough public input before they were approved by the state’s top school board in 2010.

During a legislative hearing on Monday backers of Common Core cited dismal NAEP results in 2011 in arguing for the overhaul and reiterated that view after the latest results were issued.

“What we are seeing is only moderate growth,” state Superintendent of Education John White said on Wednesday. “We are going to continue to see incremental growth unless we raise the standards.”

The results were released earlier this week but embargoed for publication until Thursday.

In 2011 students in Louisiana finished 48th in fourth-grade reading; 49th in fourth-grade math; 49th in eighth-grade reading and 47th in eighth-grade math.

The results are based on 500-point scales.

About 3,000 Louisiana students took the test in each category.

The state failed to show statistically significant gains or losses in any of the four sections.

In fourth-grade math students in Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Hampshire tied for first and in fourth-grade reading students in Massachusetts, Maryland and New Hampshire tied for first.

Students in Massachusetts finished first in both eighth-grade reading and math.