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Reading

Question:
How are American students performing in reading?

Response:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assesses student performance in reading at grades 4, 8, and 12 in both public and private schools across the nation. NAEP reading scores range from 0 to 500 for all grade levels. NAEP achievement levels define what students should know and be able to do: Basic indicates partial mastery of fundamental skills, and Proficient indicates demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter. NAEP reading assessments have been administered periodically since 1992. The most recent reading assessments were conducted in 2015 for grades 4, 8, and 12.

In 2015, the average reading score for 4th-grade students (223) was not measurably different from the 2013 score, but it was higher than the score in 1992 (217). For 8th-grade students, the average reading score in 2015 (265) was lower than in 2013 (268), but it was higher than in 1992 (260). In 2015, the average reading score for 12th-grade students (287) was not measurably different from the score in 2013, but it was 5 points lower than in 1992 (292).


Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students: Selected years, 19922015

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

> NOTE: Includes public and private schools. The reading scale scores range from 0 to 500. Assessment was not conducted for grade 8 in 2000 or for grade 12 in 2000, 2003, 2007, and 2011. Testing accommodations (e.g., extended time, small group testing) for children with disabilities and English language learners were not permitted in 1992 and 1994.


In 2015, the percentage of 4th-grade students performing at or above the Basic achievement level (69 percent) was not measurably different from the percentage in 2013, but it was higher than the percentage in 1992 (62 percent). In addition, the percentage of 4th-grade students performing at or above the Proficient achievement level in 2015 (36 percent) was not measurably different from the percentage in 2013, but it was higher than the percentage in 1992 (29 percent). Among 8th-grade students, the percentage performing at or above Basic in 2015 (76 percent) was lower than in 2013 (78 percent). However, the percentage was higher in 2015 than in 1992 (69 percent). Similarly, a lower percentage of 8th-grade students performed at or above Proficient in 2015 (34 percent) than in 2013 (36 percent), but the percentage in 2015 was higher than in 1992 (29 percent). Among 12th-grade students, the percentage performing at or above Basic in 2015 (72 percent) was lower than the percentage in 2013 (75 percent) and 1992 (80 percent). The percentage of 12th-graders performing at or above Proficient in 2015 (37 percent) was not measurably different from the percentage in 2013, but it was lower than the percentage in 1992 (40 percent).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). The Condition of Education 2016 (NCES 2016-144), Reading Performance.

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