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Mathematics

Question:
How are American students performing in mathematics?

Response:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assesses student performance in mathematics at grades 4, 8, and 12 in both public and private schools across the nation. NAEP mathematics scores range from 0 to 500 for grades 4 and 8 and from 0 to 300 for grade 12. 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 mathematics assessments have been administered periodically since 1990. The most recent mathematics assessments were conducted in 2015 for grades 4, 8, and 12.

In 2015, for the first time, the average mathematics scores for 4th- and 8th-grade students were lower than the average scores in the previous assessment year. The average 4th-grade mathematics score in 2015 (240) was lower than the score in 2013 (242), although it was higher than the score in 1990 (213). The average 8th-grade mathematics score in 2015 (282) was lower than the score in 2013 (285). However, the average 8th-grade score in 2015 was higher than the score in 1990 (263). The average 12th-grade mathematics score in 2015 (152) was lower than the score in 2013 (153), but not measurably different from the score in 2005, the first year the revised assessment was administered.



Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students: Selected years, 1990–2015

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

NOTE: Includes public and private schools. At grades 4 and 8, the mathematics scale scores range from 0 to 500. Testing accommodations (e.g., extended time, small group testing) for children with disabilities and English language learners were not permitted in 1990 and 1992.


In 2015, some 82 percent of 4th-grade students performed at or above the Basic achievement level in mathematics, and 40 percent performed at or above the Proficient level. While the percentage of 4th-grade students performing at or above Basic in 2015 was lower than in 2013 (83 percent), it was higher than the percentage in 1990 (50 percent). The percentage of 4th-grade students performing at or above Proficient in 2015 (40 percent) was lower than in 2013 (42 percent). However, the percentage of 4th-grade students performing at or above Proficient in 2015 was higher than in 1990 (13 percent). In 2015, some 71 percent of 8th-grade students performed at or above Basic in mathematics, and 33 percent performed at or above Proficient. The percentage of 8th-grade students performing at or above Basic was lower in 2015 than in 2013 (74 percent), but was higher than the percentage in 1990 (52 percent). The percentage of 8th-grade students who scored at or above Proficient in 2015 (33 percent) was also lower than the percentage in 2013 (35 percent), but was higher than the percentage in 1990 (15 percent). The percentage of 12th-grade students performing at or above Basic in 2015 (62 percent) was lower than the percentage in 2013 (65 percent), but not measurably different from the percentage in 2005. The percentage performing at or above Proficient (25 percent) was not measurably different from the percentages in 2013 and in 2005.

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

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