Math Scores Take a Dip across the Nation, Reading Scores Mixed


The Nation’s Report Card delivered disappointing news in late October, revealing lower scores in math and mixed results in reading scores for students participating in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP, which is sponsored by the Department of Education, produces the Nation’s Report Card to keep the public informed about the academic performance of elementary and secondary students in the United States.

Since the last assessment in 2013, there was a national decline in both fourth-grade and eighth-grade math scores for students across the performance range, from high to low performers. This is the first time since the early 1990s that there has been a decline at both grade levels.

Nationally, fourth-grade students performing at or above Proficient in math fell to 40% compared to 42% in 2013, and eighth-grade students fell to 33% from 35% in 2013.

Math Grade 4

Math Grade 8

Eighth-grade reading scores were also lower than 2013 assessment results. The percentage of students at or above Proficient fell from 36% in 2013 to 34% in the latest findings. However, fourth-grade reading scores, while slightly lower than the 2013 results, revealed no statistically significant change.

Reading Grade 4

Reading Grade 8

State by state, results were more varied. Fourth-grade math scores increased significantly in Mississippi, as well as in the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)—which are treated as states for comparison purposes—but decreased in sixteen other states compared to the 2013 results. Eighth-grade math scores were less promising, with twenty-two states seeing a significant decrease.

In fourth-grade reading, thirteen states saw an increase in scores, with only Maryland and Minnesota seeing a decrease. However, eighth-grade reading scores increased in only one state, with eight other states seeing decreases since 2013.

“While the downturn in reading and math scores nationally and among states is concerning, especially in math, we are encouraged by the progress made by some of the participating urban districts,” said Terry Mazany in a press release. Mazany is chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP. “Our nation’s schools and school districts are experiencing a lot of change, and NAEP gives us an independent and objective long-term measure of student achievement and lets us know where we stand today compared to past performance.”

The 2015 NAEP assessments were administered early in the year to 279,000 fourth-grade students and 273,000 eighth-grade students. National results included both public and private school students, while state-level results included only public schools for all fifty states, along with the District of Columbia and the DoDEA.

NAEP assessment results have been reported at the national level across a variety of subjects since 1969 and are often used as an indicator of the condition and progress of education. You can visit The Nation’s Report Card’s website to see the full results of the 2015 assessments.

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Teacher working with student

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Above: “Digitaalinen joulukorttipaja” by Entressen kirjasto is licensed under CC BY 2.0. It has been cropped from the original version.


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