REPORT: Oklahoma students score below national average in math tests

Friday, August 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma students scored below the national average in mathematics tests, a national organization said Thursday.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress released its math test sampling of 2,500 of Oklahoma's 47,064 fourth- graders and 2,500 of the state's 46,276 eighth-graders.

Out of a possible score of 500, the fourth-graders' average score was 225, one point below the national average, the study showed. The eighth-graders averaged 272, two points less than the national average.

Secretary of Education Floyd Coppedge and state School Superintendent Sandy Garrett both saw room for improvement.

``Along with our consistently high college remediation rates in math and other indicators, the NAEP clearly shows that Oklahoma is not assuring that students master fundamental math skills,'' Coppedge said.

``These results tell us that about one out of every three Oklahoma students has not mastered basic math skills.''

Garrett said the NAEP believes Oklahoma's eighth-grade increase from its 263 score in 1993 is significant. She also said that 69 percent of the fourth-grade students scored at or above the basic level in math, while 64 percent of the eighth-graders were at or above the basic level.

Coppedge, however, stressed that 31 percent of the fourth-graders and 36 percent of the eighth-graders were below the basic level.

``For grades 4 and 8, we are not talking about calculus,'' he said. ``We are talking about things like multiplication and long division and figuring areas and percentages _ things almost everyone needs to know these days.''

Garrett said the results weren't unexpected because of the high college math remediation rate of 31.5 percent. But she said Oklahoma does much better in other areas and the remediation rate in reading and science is in the single digits.

Garrett and Coppedge both renewed their call for a fourth year of mathematics for all students, although Garrett said Oklahoma already has upgraded its math standards and is focusing on mathematics professional development for teachers.

Coppedge agreed the NAEP has pinpointed some improvement since 1992 but added that Oklahoma hasn't kept pace with many other states.

``We seem to be stuck, and a number of other states are moving ahead,'' he said.

Nationally, the test showed that only one in four of the nation's fourth- and eighth-graders has moved beyond the basics in math.