Colorado results for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) released

Written by: Erica Manoatl
Date Posted: October 30, 2020

In the last two weeks, two important data products that inform our understanding of how Colorado kids are doing in K-12 settings were released—the 2019 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and 2017-2018 data of the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC). While we look closely at these products every year, it’s important to note this year that they feature pre-pandemic data and are not necessarily representative of current conditions. Still, we believe it’s essential for Coloradans to understand how students were being served by our public schools before the classroom disruptions of COVID-19, to better understand what their needs are likely to be after these disruptions.

Referred to as the nation’s report card, the NAEP is a nationally representative assessment that measures student academic achievement. While states administer their own standardized assessments to measure student proficiency in core subjects, the NAEP allows for important comparisons between states, providing an understanding of how Colorado students are doing compared to students across the country. In math and reading, Colorado’s fourth and eighth grade students performed about the same as they did in 2017 on the NAEP, with average math scores of 242 for fourth grade and 285 for eighth grade out of 500, and average reading scores of 225 for fourth grade and 267 for eighth grade out of 500. Both fourth and eighth grade students performed slightly higher than the national average in reading, while only eighth grade students did so in math (fourth graders performed about the same as the nation in math).

While Colorado students have generally done about the same or slightly better than the nation over the last several years on the NAEP, when we compare Colorado to itself over the years the data indicate a lack of progress. Looking back across the 2000s and 2010s, fourth grade students have performed like they did in 2019 in both subjects almost every year the assessment has been administered, and the same is true for eighth grade students. While our students tend to perform slightly better than the nation, we are not seeing them do significantly better as time goes on.

The CRDC effort is conducted by the U.S. Department of Education to understand the state of students’ civil rights in our public schools. These data are essential to our understanding of K-12 school climates, as well as which students face gaps in access to advanced coursework and experienced teachers, and disproportionate use of exclusionary discipline. We’ve used these data in the past to understand the higher rates of out-of-school suspensions and expulsions for students of color, especially in the early grades, compared to their white peers. While the CRDC did not release state profiles in 2019, the data are available by district and school. This year the CRDC also released national briefs on the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities and rates of sexual violence in K-12 schools.

You can explore Colorado’s 2019 NAEP data further here, as well as our 2017-2018 CRDC district- and school-level data around the civil rights of students here.

Erica Manoatl

About Erica Manoatl

Erica Manoatl is the Research Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports the organization’s research priorities, data analysis, and writing in all issue areas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from George Washington University and a Master of Public Health in Population and Family Health from Columbia University.