Gains for Special Education Students on NAEP Mathematics

By Margaret Ruthenberg — August 31, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Due to increased focus on testing and accountability, the U.S. education system and the general public have recently given greater attention to the academic performance of students with disabilities. School communities and advocates for disabled students have focused efforts on raising expectations and achievement for this group of young people. This Stat of the Week explores the 8th grade math scores of students with disabilities on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, often referred to as “the nation’s report card.” These scores reflect student knowledge in five areas of mathematics: number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebra.

The NAEP program includes students with disabilities in its assessments, allowing them specific testing accommodations as necessary. Accommodations may include receiving assistance interpreting directions, using a computer or typewriter to respond, taking the test in small group or one-on-one settings, and having extended time and breaks during the test.

Changes in NAEP 8th Grade Mathematics Scores for Students with Disabilities from 2000 to 2005

Nationally, between 2000 and 2005, the average score of students with disabilities on the grade 8 NAEP mathematics test increased 15 points on a 500-point scale, climbing from 229 to 244—a statistically significant increase. However, there was considerable variation in performance between states. Of the 32 states (and the District of Columbia) with scale score increases, only 17 made statistically significant gains. Eighth-graders with disabilities in South Carolina made the largest strides, gaining 24 points between 2000 and 2005. Five other states, Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Tennessee, experienced score increases of 20 points or more. The largest decline occurred in Alabama, where the average score fell eight points from 229 to 221. Among the five declines that occurred in various states, none were statistically significant.

Scores for 13 states are not available for the 2000 assessment. Of those, 11 states did not participate in the exam, which was not mandatory until 2003, and scores for two states did not meet NAEP’s reporting standards. The results for students with disabilities are based on those students who were tested and cannot be generalized to the overall population for this group.

The rise in the national average of NAEP mathematics scores for students with disabilities suggests that advocates’ call for increased attention to this population may be paying off. However, despite recent improvements, scores for students with disabilities still lag far behind those of their peers, with a gap of 37 points between the 8th grade NAEP mathematics scores of disabled and non-disabled students, nationally, in 2005.

More information on students with disabilities is available in EPE’s Education Counts database. In addition, Education Week’s Quality Counts 2004: Count Me In: Special Education in an Era of Standards focused on issues in special education.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: February 7, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 31, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: January 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education In Their Own Words The Stories That Stuck With Us, 2023 Edition
Our newsroom selected five stories as among the highlights of our work. Here's why.
4 min read
102523 IMSE Reading BS
Adria Malcolm for Education Week