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Reading

Question:
How are American students performing in reading?

Response:

In 2022, the average reading score at both fourth and eighth grade decreased by 3 points compared to 2019. At fourth grade, the average reading score was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005 and was not significantly different in comparison to 1992. At eighth grade, the average reading score was lower compared to all previous assessment years going back to 1998 and was not significantly different compared to 1992. In 2022, fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores declined for most states/jurisdictions compared to 2019. Average scores are reported on NAEP reading scales at grades 4 and 8 that range from 0 to 500.


Trend in fourth- and eighth-grade reading average scores

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

--- Accommodations not permitted. ó Accommodations permitted. * Significantly different (p < .05) from 2022.


NAEP reports scores at five selected percentiles to show the progress made by lower- (10th and 25th percentiles), middle- (50th percentile), and higher- (75th and 90th percentiles) performing students.

Results for states/jurisdictions reflect the performance of students in public schools only.1

Fourth Grade

In 2022, fourth-grade reading scores declined for students performing at the 10th, 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles compared to 2019; there was no significant score change for the highest-performing students at the 90th percentile. Score declines for lower-performing students at the 10th and 25th percentiles (6 and 5 points, respectively) were greater than the 1 point decline for higher-performing students at the 75th percentile.


Changes in fourth-grade NAEP reading scores at five selected percentiles: 2019 and 2022

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

NOTE: See end of Fast Fact for information on Scale score and Assessment year.


Across the states/jurisdictions at grade 4 in 2022, score declines since 2019 for lower-performing students (10th and 25th percentiles) were more prevalent than score declines for higher-performing students (75th and 90th percentiles) in 2022. Among the 30 states/jurisdictions with score declines, scores decreased for lower-performing students in 16 states/jurisdictions while scores decreased for higher-performing students in 3 states/jurisdictions.

Eighth Grade

Reading scores were lower in 2022 than in 2019 for eighth-graders across all five selected percentiles. The magnitude of score declines for lower-performing students at the 10th and 25th percentiles (3 and 4 points, respectively) were not significantly different than the declines for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles (both 2 points lower than in 2019).


Changes in eighth-grade NAEP reading scores at five selected percentiles: 2019 and 2022

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

NOTE: See end of Fast Fact for information on Scale score and Assessment year.


In 2022, among the 33 states with average score declines since 2019, scores decreased for higher-performing students (75th and 90th percentiles) in 4 states and scores decreased for lower-performing students (10th and 25th percentiles) in 9 states. Compared to 2019, scores increased in one jurisdiction for higher-performing students; this jurisdiction had an overall score increase in 2022.

More frequent access to resources for higher performers learning remotely2

All students who took the reading assessments in 2022 were asked if they ever attended school from home or somewhere else outside of school for any duration during the last school year (2020–21) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among fourth-grade students, 57 percent recalled learning remotely during the last school year, 20 percent reported they did not learn remotely, and 23 percent did not remember. Among eighth-grade students, 75 percent recalled learning remotely during the last school year, 16 percent reported they did not learn remotely, and 8 percent did not remember.

Of the fourth- and eighth-grade students who learned remotely during the 2020–21 school year, higher performers (those at or above the 75th percentile) had more frequent access to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet all the time; a quiet place to work available at least some of the time; and a teacher available to help them with English/language arts schoolwork about once or twice a week or more compared to lower performers (those below the 25th percentile). Additionally, higher-performing grade 8 students reported more participation in real-time video lessons with their teacher every day or almost every day compared to their lower-performing peers.

1 States/jurisdictions include all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), a federally operated nonpublic school system responsible for educating children of military families. See more about DoDEA.
2 These results cannot be used to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the characteristics or experiences and student achievement. NAEP is not designed to identify the causes of performance differences. There are many factors that may influence average student achievement, including local educational policies and practices, the quality of teachers, and available resources. Such factors may change over time and vary among student groups.

Scale score: A score, derived from student responses to assessment items, that summarizes the overall level of performance attained by students. While NAEP does not produce scale scores for individual students, NAEP does produce summary statistics describing scale scores for groups of students. NAEP subject area scales typically range from 0 to 500 (reading, mathematics, U.S. history, and geography) or from 0 to 300 (science, writing, and civics).

Assessment year: The main NAEP assessments were first administered in 1990 for mathematics and in 1992 for reading. The NAEP mathematics and reading assessments are typically administered every two years (with some exceptions for adjustments) to monitor the academic performance of students. Mathematics and reading results for all NAEP assessment years are available in the NAEP Data Explorer.

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). 2022 NAEP Reading Assessment: Highlighted results at grades 4 and 8 for the nation, states, and districts. The Nationís Report Card. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/highlights/reading/2022/.

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