Skip Navigation
Click to open navigation

Indicator 9: Reading Achievement
(Last Updated: July 2017)

From 1992 through 2015, the average reading scores for White 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-graders were higher than those of their Black and Hispanic peers.

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. The most recent reading assessments were conducted in 2015 for each of these grades.


Figure 9.1. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1992, 2013, and 2015

Figure 9.1. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 4th- and 8th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1992, 2013, and 2015


—Not available.
‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Prior to 2011, separate data for Asian students, Pacific Islander students, and students of Two or more races were not collected.
NOTE: Includes public and private schools. The reading 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 1992. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1992, 2013, and 2015 Reading Assessments, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 221.10.


At grade 4, the average reading scale scores in 2015 were not measurably different from the scores in 2013 for students from any racial/ethnic group. For White, Black, and Hispanic students, average scores in 2015 were higher than their scores in 1992. At grade 8, the average 2015 reading scores for White (274), Black (248), and Hispanic (253) students were lower than their 2013 scores (276, 250, and 256, respectively), while the average 2015 reading scores for Asian, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students of Two or more races were not measurably different from their 2013 scores. Consistent with the findings at grade 4, the average reading scores for White, Black, and Hispanic 8th-grade students were higher in 2015 than in 1992.

Closing achievement gaps is a goal among education policymakers. From 1992 through 2015, the average reading scores for White 4th- and 8th-graders were higher than those of their Black and Hispanic peers. Although the White-Black and White-Hispanic achievement gaps did not change measurably from 2013 to 2015 for either grade 4 or 8, some racial/ethnic achievement gaps have narrowed since the early 1990s.

At grade 4, the White-Black gap narrowed from 32 points in 1992 to 26 points in 2015. The White-Hispanic gap in 2015 (24 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992. Data were not available in 1992 for Asian and Pacific Islander students, and for students of Two or more races. Additionally, data for American Indian/Alaska Native students in 1992 did not meet reporting standards. In 2015, White students scored higher than American Indian/Alaska Native students (gap of 27 points), Pacific Islander students (gap of 18 points), and students of Two or more races (gap of 5 points). Meanwhile, Asian students scored higher than White students (gap of 8 points).

At grade 8, the White-Hispanic gap narrowed from 26 points in 1992 to 21 points in 2015; the White-Black gap in 2015 (26 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992. In 2015, White students scored higher than American Indian/Alaska Native students (gap of 22 points), Pacific Islander students (gap of 20 points), and students of Two or more races (gap of 5 points). Meanwhile, Asian students scored higher than White students (gap of 7 points).


Figure 9.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 12th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1992, 2013, and 2015

Figure 9.2. Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale scores of 12th-grade students, by race/ethnicity: 1992, 2013, and 2015


—Not available.
‡ Reporting standards not met (too few cases for a reliable estimate).
1 Prior to 2011, separate data for Asian students, Pacific Islander students, and students of Two or more races were not collected.
NOTE: Includes public and private schools. The reading 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 1992. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1992, 2013, and 2015 Reading Assessments, NAEP Data Explorer. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 221.10.


At grade 12, the average 2015 reading scores for White (295) and Hispanic (276) students were not measurably different from the scores in 2013 and 1992. For Black students, the 2015 average score (266) was lower than the 1992 score (273) but was not measurably different from the 2013 score. The 2015 scores were not measurably different from the 2013 scores for students who were Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races.

Achievement gaps were also evident among 12th-grade students. The White-Black gap was larger in 2015 (30 points) than in 1992 (24 points), while the White- Hispanic gap in 2015 (20 points) was not measurably different from the gap in 1992. In 2015, there were no measurable differences between scores for White students and scores for students who were Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, and of Two or more races.

Top