Equity & Diversity Report Roundup

Students’ Vocabulary Skills Aren’t Improving, Study Says

By Catherine Gewertz — April 14, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The NAEP study looks at 4th, 8th, and 12th grade vocabulary performance between 2009 and 2013. Fourth and 8th graders inched up a point on the 500-point scale between 2011 and 2013, but 12th graders, who weren’t assessed for vocabulary in 2011, didn’t improve from 2009 to 2013.

The results show that achievement gaps by race and income are big at the 4th and 8th grade levels, and even bigger by high school. The vocabulary-score gap between Asian and white students is narrow in elementary school, with Asians outscoring whites by a few points. It remains slim in middle school, with white students pulling ahead, but widens in high school, where white students outperform Asian students by 9 points. While Asian students’ performance held steady or improved over time in elementary and middle school, it diminished over time at the high school level.

Among the highlights:

• Only 47 percent of 4th graders chose the correct interpretation for “brilliant,” but 73 percent figured out that “touched” meant “convinced” in the context of the reading passage presented.

• Forty-nine percent of 8th graders correctly interpreted “reverently,” while 87 percent knew that “initiation” meant the protagonist in the text was “beginning to learn” something.

Just 32 percent of 12th graders knew that “novel” meant “new.” But 81 percent knew “assimilate” when its context meant “to absorb words from many languages.”

A version of this article appeared in the April 15, 2015 edition of Education Week as Students’ Vocabulary Skills Aren’t Improving, Study Says

Events

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.
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.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
What is it About Math? Making Math Figure-Out-Able
Join Pam Harris for an engaging session challenging how we approach math, resulting in real world math that is “figure-out-able” for anyone.
Content provided by hand2mind
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.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD

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

Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Inclusion & Equity
This Spotlight will help you examine disparities in districts’ top positions, the difference between equity and equality, and more.
Equity & Diversity Opinion You Should Be Teaching Black Historical Contention
How to responsibly teach this critical component of Black history instruction —and why you should.
Brittany L. Jones
4 min read
A student raises their hand to ask a question before a group of assorted historical figures.
Camilla Sucre for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion 2 Billion People Celebrate Lunar New Year. Your Class Can, Too
Many school districts are putting the upcoming holiday on their calendars. Guests, music, food, and red envelopes can help bring the festival alive.
Sarah Elia
4 min read
 Illustration depicting a vibrantly colored dragon winding through traditions practiced during the lunar new year.
Changyu Zou for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Suburban Schools Reborn: Compton, Calif., Is Charting a Hopeful Path
An exclusive excerpt from a new book about America's fast-changing suburban schools by former Education Week Staff Writer Benjamin Herold.
7 min read
Principal Bilma Bermudez looks at the virtual reality scene 8th grade student Miguel Rios created at Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2024.
Principal Bilma Bermudez looks at the virtual reality scene 8th grade student Miguel Rios designed at Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2024.
Lauren Justice for Education Week