FRL Gains

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So I ran the NAEP learning gains for free and reduced lunch eligible children for the entire period in which all 50 states have data available on all 4 main NAEP exams.

West Virginia, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do!

What has Maryland been up to? Underrated?

North Carolina…you really let yourself go!

Florida wins despite the fact that starting the clock in 2003 ignores large gains between 1998 and 2002.

Discuss amongst yourselves…I’m feeling a little verklempt.

16 Responses to FRL Gains

  1. Patrick says:

    I’m having a hard time explaining Nevada. We’re a high income state with low-poverty rates, below average spending, hardly any meaningful reforms, and a majority-minority student population.

    It could be that Nevada has closed or virtually closed the achievement gap between low-income students and everyone else, but everyone else is doing poorly (this seems to be the case when I look at the data).

  2. matthewladner says:

    Assuming NV also had some gains among non FRL kids, they may not have done much to close gaps at all (you could check). This is also only a gains analysis, and I know that Nevada’s overall scores are still very low.

    If NV has been experiencing a big increase in FRL kids, it could also be the case that this progress among FRL kids has been obscured in the aggregate number.

    Nationwide since 2003 Hispanics have been making larger gains than Anglos on NAEP. The quality of execution in testing could possibly explain some variation in results, but so could many other things.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Love this chart!!

  4. Parry says:


    What do the high school scores look like? I know they have historically been much flatter than the 4th and 8th grade scores.


  5. Matthew Ladner says:


    NAEP doesn’t have state by state high school scores, but I can take a peek at the national numbers for FRL high school students.

  6. matthewladner says:


    Between 2004 and 2008, the FRL number for 17 year olds (from the long term trend) increased by 4 points.


  7. matthewladner says:

    Ooops- forgot to run the numbers for 12th grade math. 3 point gain for FRL kids. Combined gain for math and reading = 7 points.

    Still meh

  8. Ann In L.A. says:

    Going back to the collective bargaining and educational achievement discussion of several weeks ago (spurred by Wisconsin’s festivities), I highlighted those states which do not allow teachers to collective bargain in red here. Texas and Georgia do very well, Virginia not bad, and the Carolinas are weak.

  9. Barbara says:

    Is this based on average increase in raw scores among FRL students at the two age levels?

  10. matthewladner says:

    Almost- this is the total point increase across all 4 major NAEP exams (4th math and reading, 8th math and reading) for free and reduced lunch eligible children between 2003 and 2009.

  11. Jim Stergios says:

    Wow. West Virginia — that bastion of the 21st Century Skills agenda — does have a lot of explaining to do. Jay Rockefeller, Ken Kay, anybody home?

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  15. David Frankel says:


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