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2007 NAEP Math Results for Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Students Score Below U.S. Average in Mathematics, According to The Nation's Report Card


WASHINGTON (December 10, 2008)—Students in Puerto Rico public schools scored below the national average in mathematics, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as The Nation's Report Card. The test was administered in 2007 to representative samples of fourth- and eighth-graders by the U.S. Department of Education.

NAEP provides independent objective information on student performance at the national, state, and local levels. It has served an important role in evaluating the condition of American education for more than three decades. This was the third time the assessment was given in Puerto Rico. However, comparisons are not made to previous years.

In each grade, about 2,800 students from 100 public schools in Puerto Rico took a Spanishlanguage version of the NAEP mathematics assessment. Puerto Rico, like all 50 states and the District of Columbia, participates in NAEP as a requirement for receiving federal education aid under the No Child Left Behind Act.

On the NAEP 2007 mathematics assessment, the average of the question scores for students in Puerto Rico was lower than the average for students in the nation in grades 4 and 8 overall and in each of the five content areas assessed. The scores are reported as decimals ranging from 0.00 to 1.00. In Puerto Rico, the averages of the question scores were 0.26 for grade 4 and 0.25 for grade 8, less than the national averages of 0.55 and 0.51, respectively.

"The purpose of NAEP is to provide an unbiased, independent measure of academic achievement, and that's what we accomplished in Puerto Rico," said David Gordon, chairman of the Reporting and Dissemination Committee of the National Assessment Governing Board, the bipartisan panel that sets policy for NAEP. "As a survey, NAEP tests a very broad range of knowledge and skills and produces good information on how groups of students perform."

The content framework—or test "blueprint"—of the NAEP mathematics assessment was determined by the Governing Board, after wide consultation with mathematics teachers, policymakers, business representatives, and the general public. The five content areas assessed are number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebra. The assessment content was the same in Puerto Rico as throughout the United States, though students in Puerto Rico were given a total of 70 minutes to complete the assessment—20 minutes more than on the mainland.

Overall, there was no significant difference in performance between male and female students in Puerto Rico at either grade tested. Nationwide, males scored higher than females overall in both grades. At grade 8 in Puerto Rico, males scored higher in the measurement content area, while females did better in data analysis and probability.

The average question scores for fourth-grade students in Puerto Rico ranged from 0.21 in data analysis and probability to 0.39 in geometry. The scores for eighth-grade students ranged from 0.23 in both measurement and algebra to 0.28 in number properties and operations.

The Puerto Rico results for 2007 are not reported in terms of average scale scores or achievement levels because a traditional NAEP scale score suitable for making comparisons over time was not appropriate for the 2007 Puerto Rico results. As a result, student performance in 2007 is not compared to performance in the previous NAEP assessments in 2003 and 2005.

Copies of The Nation's Report Card Mathematics 2007: Performance in Puerto Rico—Focus on the Content Areas are online at

Stephaan Harris

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the only nationally representative, continuing evaluation of the condition of education in the United States. It has served as a national yardstick of student achievement since 1969. Through the Nation's Report Card, NAEP informs the public about what American students know and can do in various subject areas and compares achievement between states, large urban districts, and various student demographic groups.
The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988 to oversee and set policy for NAEP.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a congressionally authorized project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. The National Center for Education Statistics, within the Institute of Education Sciences, administers NAEP. The Commissioner of Education Statistics is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project.