News Release: Maryland Students Improve NAEP Vocabulary Scores

News Release: Maryland Students Improve NAEP Vocabulary Scores

For Immediate Release
Office of Communications

Vocabulary scores by Maryland students are on the rise at both the fourth grade and eighth grade level, scoring well past the national averages according to data being released today by the National Assessment of Educational Program (NAEP).

NAEP, a federal program known as the Nation’s Report Card, found that Maryland Grade 4 vocabulary scores increased from 223 to 226 between 2009 and 2011, while Grade 8 scores jumped from 266 to 269.  The national average for Grade 4 was 217, while the national average for Grade 8 was 263, and neither of those scores improved between 2009 and 2011.

Fourth graders in Maryland ranked fourth in the nation for vocabulary, while eighth graders tied for 14th.  The rate of score improvement for both classes was among the best overall.

“The new NAEP analysis provides another indication that we are on the right track with Maryland public education, but we have not reached our destination,” said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery.  “Our goal is to prepare our high school graduates for their next chapter in life, and a strong vocabulary is a big part of that.  We must continue to improve, as well as to cut down on the gaps in achievement between certain groups of Maryland students.”

There is no separate test for vocabulary; the score is derived from the vocabulary sections of the NAEP Reading Assessments.  Beginning in 2009, NAEP integrated a measure of students’ understanding of word meaning into the test. 

The new data includes a great deal of good news for Maryland.  For example, most subgroups in fourth grade tallied score increases.  Hispanic vocabulary scores showed dramatic improvement, increasing 11 points between 2009 and 2011.

Scores were similarly gratifying at eighth grade, where every demographic group but one registered improvement.  Only economically disadvantaged students – those receiving free or reduced price meals – did not see scores rise.  The average scores in that subgroup was flat at 250.

The achievement gap remains an issue, both in Maryland and throughout the nation.  For example, while all racial subgroups in Maryland tallied improvement in eighth grade vocabulary, the average score for Asian students stood at 286, White students at 282, Hispanic students at 257, and African American students at 252.

More information on this and other NAEP reports is available at


Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS), one of the nation's 25 largest school districts, has 208 schools and centers, more than 130,000 students and nearly 19,000 employees. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell, the school system serves a diverse student population from urban, suburban and rural communities located in the Washington, DC suburbs. PGCPS is nationally recognized for innovative programs and initiatives that provide students with unique learning opportunities, including arts integration, environmental and financial literacy, and language immersion.