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In a first-of-its-kind report on the vocabulary skills of U.S. students, Washington fourth-graders scored about average and eighth-graders scored above average.

The results were drawn from a reading exam called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is also called the Nation’s Report Card.  Starting in 2009, the test has included questions designed to measure students’ understanding of words.

In one question, for example, eighth-graders were asked to define the word “permeated” as used in a reading passage.  They could chose from four possibilities, including “caused the shaved ice to melt slightly” as well as the correct answer “spread all the way through the shaved ice.”  Fifty-one percent of eighth-graders gave the correct answer.

Vocabulary results were released Thursday from the NAEP reading exams given in 2009 and 2011.  Washington students scored about the same in both years.

The NAEP reading test is given every two years to a representative sample of students in grades 4, 8 and 12.   Washington state did not participate in the 12th-grade test.