Test Scores for US Students Are 'Appalling'

Drops recorded in math and reading, and the pandemic is blamed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2022 11:05 AM CDT
Test Scores for US Students Are 'Appalling'
Stock photo.   (Gett/Deztinie)

A federal assessment of US students known as the "nation's report card" is out, and the results are pretty bleak. Scores are down in reading and math—especially math—across the country, with the pandemic blamed for wreaking havoc on education. Details:

  • The test: The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests fourth- and eighth-graders on reading and math, and the results out Monday are the first since 2019, per the AP. Complete results with state breakdowns are here.
  • The drops: The average math score among fourth-graders fell 5 points since 2019, from 241 to 236 out of 500, per Politico. The score for eighth-graders fell by 8 points, from 282 to 274. In this category, scores dropped in every state but Utah, whose declines weren't considered statistically significant, per the New York Times. The average reading scores for each group also fell, by 3 points each. "Not a single state saw a notable improvement in their average test scores, with some simply treading water at best," per the AP.
  • Context: "In NAEP, when we experience a 1- or 2-point decline, we're talking about it as a significant impact on a student's achievement," Peggy Carr, commissioner of the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, tells the AP. "In math, we experienced an 8-point decline—historic for this assessment." Eighth-grade test subjects would be high school freshmen this year, and the results suggest nearly 4 in 10 fail to grasp basic math principles.

  • Blame game: Those looking to examine whether red or blue states fared better during the pandemic (in regard to school closings, for example) are out of luck. No clear patterns exist on that front, per the Times and Politico. For example, California was roughly on par with Florida, even though they took very different approaches on school closures. "There are no winners. There are no losers. There are losses among all states and all grades," former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, tells Politico.
  • An alarm: "I want to be very clear: The results in today's nation's report card are appalling and unacceptable," says US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, per the Times. "This is a moment of truth for education. How we respond to this will determine not only our recovery, but our nation's standing in the world."
(More education stories.)

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