How are American students performing in mathematics?
In 2022, the average fourth-grade mathematics score decreased by 5 points and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2005; the average score was one point higher compared to 2003. The average eighth-grade mathematics score decreased by 8 points compared to 2019 and was lower than all previous assessment years going back to 2003. In 2022, fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics scores declined for most states/jurisdictions as well as for most participating urban districts compared to 2019. Average scores are reported on NAEP mathematics scales at grades 4 and 8 that range from 0 to 500.
Trend in fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics average scores
--- 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
In 2022, fourth-grade mathematics scores declined at all five selected percentiles for the first time since the initial mathematics assessment in 1990. The magnitude of score declines for lower-performing students at the 10th and 25th percentiles (7 and 6 points, respectively) were greater than the declines for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles (3 and 2 points, respectively).
Changes in fourth-grade NAEP mathematics scores at five selected percentiles: 2019 and 2022
Across the states/jurisdictions at grade 4, 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 43 states/jurisdictions with score declines, scores decreased for lower-performing students in 30 states/jurisdictions while scores decreased for higher-performing students in 13 states/jurisdictions.
In 2022, eighth-grade mathematics scores declined across the performance distribution for the first time since the initial mathematics assessment in 1990. The magnitude of score declines for lower-performing students at the 10th and 25th percentiles (6 and 8 points, respectively) were not significantly different than the declines for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles (9 and 8 points, respectively) with one exception; the score decline for students at the 75th percentile was higher than the decline for students at the 10th percentile.
Changes in eighth-grade NAEP mathematics scores at five selected percentiles: 2019 and 2022
Across the states/jurisdictions at grade 8, score declines since 2019 for higher-performing students (75th and 90th percentiles) were more prevalent than score declines for lower-performing students (10th and 25th percentiles) in 2022. Among the 51 states/jurisdictions with score declines, scores decreased for higher-performing students in 38 states/jurisdictions while scores decreased for lower-performing students in 24 states/jurisdictions.
More frequent access to resources for higher performers learning remotely2
All students who took the mathematics 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, 58 percent recalled learning remotely during the last school year, 20 percent reported they did not learn remotely, and 22 percent did not remember. Among eighth-grade students, 73 percent recalled learning remotely during the last school year, 18 percent reported they did not learn remotely, and 9 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 mathematics schoolwork about once or twice a week or more compared to lower performers (those below the 25th percentile). Additionally, higher-performing eighth-grade 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, Puerto Rico, 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 Mathematics 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/mathematics/2022/.
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