NAEP Results Show Testing Mania Failing

K-12 Testing

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2001 “Reading Report Card” provides further evidence that the testing mania sweeping the nation fails to improve school quality. Based on national data on grade 4 reading, the NAEP study showed that:


• There has been no gain in NAEP grade four reading performance nationally since 1992, despite a huge increase in state-mandated testing;
• NAEP scores in southern states, which test the most and have the highest stakes attached to their state testing programs, have declined;
• The NAEP score gap between white children and those from African American and Hispanic families has increased, even though schools serving low-income and minority-group children put the most emphasis on testing; and
• Scores of children eligible for free lunch programs have dropped since 1996.


A NAEP trend report looking at state-level data did identify some score gains in math, particularly at grade 8. The gaps between high and low-scoring students have tended to widen since 1990, particularly on the grade 4 reading test (grade 8 reading was not reported).


FairTest research has found that states which had the highest stakes (graduation exams) and tested the most were less likely to show progress on NAEP math tests than were states which did not have high stakes or tested less frequently.


• NAEP Reports are available at
• A draft of the FairTest study is on the web at